I have always loved Palm Sunday. A jubilant springtime celebration where everyone is happy and people finally understand who Jesus is. Or sort of understand. Or momentarily think they understand.
Palm Sunday is a dramatic opening to Holy Week as Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey. It is a great story if you ignore the undercurrents of all that is going on. Not only are people making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover but Jesus is gathering with his closest friends, the disciples. The authorities are plotting to arrest him and Jesus knows what is about to happen. Others, including the disciples, cannot imagine what the week will bring.
Hearing the story of Palm Sunday is different for us this year because it is a flashback. We have been dwelling in Jesus’ last days including the Last Supper, arrest and trial for several weeks, hearing every excruciating detail of this story. As we were preparing the Palm Sunday Drama, one of the kids summarized the experience as “this is not a happy story.”
This is exactly right – it isn’t a happy story as we dwell in Holy Week. But it is a story of our heritage and God’s love for us and how Jesus gave everything for us. It is a story of how we are all God’s children.
For this reason, we sing “All Glory Laud and Honor.” Here is a recording of this hymn by King’s College Cambridge.