Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Whatever Happened to Palm Sunday?

Back when I was a kid in the 60s, our church always celebrated the Sunday before Easter as "Palm Sunday." Somewhere between then and now it changed to "Passion Sunday." Yes, I get why this change was made. I know it's because the vast majority of members skip the weeknight and weekday services, and go straight from Jesus' triumphal entry one Sunday to His resurrection the next, without ever hearing the account of His suffering and death on the cross to save us from our sins.

I'm happy that in many churches the triumphal entry is not completely overlooked; it gets put at the front of the service. But still that kind of bums me out. When you try to squeeze in all the monumental events of Holy Week into a single hour of worship, everything gets diminished.

For me there is something to walking along with Jesus and participating in the events of Holy Week on the day those events occurred. On Palm Sunday I will think of Jesus entering Jerusalem to the praises of the people. The palm branches waving, the cloaks being laid on the roads to give Jesus that red carpet welcome into His capital city. I note the tears rolling down Jesus' cheeks because, just like us, He knows the rest of the story.

On Monday I will think of the barren fig tree that withered at Jesus' words: a powerful reminder that I'm here to bear fruit for God and the growth of His kingdom, not just for my own personal interests.

On Tuesday I will think of Jesus' powerful teachings in the temple courts, the challenges and questions He faced, and His final warning to the crowds as His days drew short. I'll remember the time is brief for each of us too, and I need to listen to Jesus and share His words with others before their time -- or mine -- runs out.

On Wednesday I will think of the silent day Jesus spent alone with His disciples. There are times when I need to spend time alone with my loved ones, celebrating our lives together, cherishing those fleeting moments.

On Thursday I'll think of Peter and John making preparations for that Last Supper, and then that evening -- in church -- I'll sit in that upper room with Jesus and receive His precious memorial: His body and blood given in, with, and under the bread and wine. Then I'll go with Him to the Garden of Gethsemane and watch as He pours out His heart in anguished prayer.

On Friday I'll witness the trial before Pilate; I'll follow the procession to Calvary and stand at the foot of the cross, watching my Savior reconciling all of us to our Heavenly Father as He dies in our place.

On Saturday I'll stand looking on the tomb that holds my Savior's lifeless body -- as it awaits the resurrection on the morrow. I'll sit with the Roman soldiers who come to seal the tomb and stand guard over it.

No, one hour is not enough for me to celebrate my Lord's passion. To really be able to celebrate Easter right, I'm going to need every day of Holy Week.

How do you celebrate the coming Holy Week? Do you have any special traditions to add to a week already full of reverential events? You can let us know by clicking here and sharing our thoughts.

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