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Entry into Jerusalem, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved March 29, 2015]. Original source: again to all,

The story arc of Palm Sunday goes from glorious to pensive. For those of us who don't attend any of the meditative services of Holy Week—Tenebrae and the Triduum of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil—today is our chance for reflection on Jesus' trial and crucifixion and His last days as a man among us.

For those of us active in preparing and assisting or leading worship, Palm Sunday is the beginning of the Great Liturgical Marathon that leads us to the celebration of Easter Sunday. We don't begrudge the extra hours preparing sanctuaries, music, and homilies. Rather, we welcome the different rhythm of the non-Sunday days of Holy Week. It brings Church back into our workaday lives. Each service feeds us a smaller and more manageable chunk of the Gospel we hear on Palm Sunday. We are better able to remain focused on that day's portion of the story.

Somehow, it is the least we can do: communally sharing the remembrance of the Last Supper, the waiting in the garden, the arrest and trial, the crucifixion. How amazing it is each year to hear an old story retold and for the words to be fresh and lose none of their powerful imagery and meaning!

Wherever we are around the Communion, whether it is spring or fall or tropical or cold, we are part of a great number all remembering the last earthly events of Jesus' life and looking toward the feast of the Resurrection next week. The differences between our provinces fade away during this week when we are meditating on Jesus' death and resurrection. This is the week when we take the time to remember why we are Christians.

In addition to the biblical texts, we find time each Holy Week to meditate on Richard Hey Lloyd's setting of a poem by D. Ruth Etchells: The Ballad of the Judas Tree. We invite you to join us.

In hell there grew a Judas Tree where Judas hanged and died,
Because he could not bear to see his Master crucified.
Our Lord descended into hell, and found his Judas there,
For ever hanging on the tree grown from his own despair.

So Jesus cut his Judas down and took him in his arms,
"It was for this I came," He said, "And not to do you harm.
My Father gave me twelve good men, and all of them I kept,
Though one betrayed and one denied, some fled and others slept.

In three days' time I must return to make the others glad,
But first I had to come to hell and share the death you had.
My tree will grow in place of yours, its roots lie here as well,
There is no final victory without this soul from hell."

So when we all condemn him as of every traitor worst,
Remember that of all his men, our Lord forgave him first.*


See you next week.

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All of us at Anglicans Online

29 March 2015

* © D. Ruth Etchells



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