Collect and Readings for Palm Sunday – Isaiah 50.4-9a, Psalm 31.9-18, Psalm 118.1-2, 19-end, Philemon 2.5-11, Matthew 21.1-11, Matthew 26.14-27.end
The Prayer for today
Almighty and everlasting God, who in your tender love towards the human race sent your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ to take upon him our flesh and to suffer death upon the cross: grant that we may follow the example of his patience and humility, and also be made partakers of his resurrection; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Today we begin the heightened drama of the walk through a week known as holy. Since Christmas we have traced the life of Jesus through his birth, childhood, Baptism and preparation in the wilderness, and touched on the main areas of his ministry; and now we come to that final week of his earthly life. All the Gospel writers move into noticeably greater detailing their narratives, with these events taking up a sizeable proportion of each Gospel. The words and events are carefully and thoroughly recorded, in keeping with the intense significance of these days which focus all of life before them and all that has happened since.
Quite deliberately, the readings and liturgy take us on a roller- coaster of spiritual experience. We stand with the ecstatic crowds waving palm branches and celebrating the entry into Jerusalem, the holy city, by Jesus the Messiah. There is great hope and expectation that final things are drawing to accomplishment. We are poignantly aware that Jesus is both acknowledging the crowd’s excitement at his kingship and also trying to show them something of the true nature of kingship which has nothing to do with temporal power and wealth or narrow nationalism.
And then we are gripped by the detailed seriousness of all that led up to the crucifixion, like a profound family memory indelibly written on hearts and handed down with great care and reverence from generation to generation. We both cry out against what is happening and also know it to be necessary and inevitable. We both balk at the way people could treat Jesus, the Lord of life, and also know that we do it ourselves every day. We recognise the utter failure and futility of it all and also know it to be the strangest and most complete victory for the entire world.
Some things to reflect on:
• What particular details did you notice in this reading of the crucifixion?
• Why did Jesus choose not to call on all the angels to be at his disposal? (Matthew 26:53-54)
Rev’d Fiona Robinson