The palms may NOT have been palms exactly (mostly cuttings of NZ native shrubs, in fact) but this Sunday a hardy band of people, young and old, braved the cool, damp autumn morning to gather for the Liturgy of the Palms, marking the beginning of our Holy Week. After a gospel reading about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey (Matthew 21:1-11), we processed to Holy Innocents church, singing, and laid the palms before the altar. [More photos at the end of this post.]
What followed was a dramatic reading of the ‘Passion Narrative’—this year as told in Matthew’s Gospel—that is, the account of our Lord’s final meal with his disciples, his betrayal, arrest, trials, scourging, crucifixion, death, and burial.
To hear this story from beginning to end, with the parts read aloud by individuals seated among the people, is something we Anglicans only experience at this season. For the rest of the year the gospels are read to us from the lectern, in small pieces from week to week according to our Revised Common Lectionary. The emotional impact of hearing the Passion Narrative at one sitting is often underestimated, and the precious moments of silent contemplation that followed the reading were entered into whole-heartedly by the people gathered this Sunday.
Blessings to all in this last week of Lent. May we open our hearts to the sorrow of Good Friday, and come to experience the joy of Easter Day.
[On Maundy Thursday folk will gather in the church hall at 6pm for a shared meal followed by a liturgy of footwashing to remember the One who came to serve. We meet again at 9.30am on Good Friday at St Paul’s church in Leithfield, and Easter Day will be celebrated at 9.30am at Holy Innocents.]