Palm-Passion Sunday

Sunday, I visited a church that I’ve been to a couple of times before. It’s a smallish church without a lot of the pomp & circumstance that some churches have. But there is a warmth that I’ve felt with every visit that makes it really easy to go back.

The service was a good attempt to connect Palm and Passion Sunday in one go, which was quite the topic of conversation in the ecclesiotwitblogosphere the week before. The question is how to hold in tension between the busyness that Holy Week becomes if we expect people to come out for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday and Easter services and the need to experience the Cross between the palms and the empty tomb.

From here in the bleacher seats, I’m pretty sure I’d rather work on a Lenten series that does the heavy lifting and allows Palm Sunday to stand on its merits. Or maybe alternate between Palms and Passion year to year. Both on the same day feels like a really fine line and and a difficult one to walk well. But as a combo service, I did see some things at OPC that I would like to build on.

The liturgy was essentially a Palm Sunday liturgy up to the Scriptures.
The readings used 2 voices, starting with Jesus sending the disciples ahead for the donkey then shifting to Jesus sending the disciples ahead to prepare the room for the passover meal. They alternated back and forth to create parallel journeys: into Jerusalem like a King and out of Jerusalem like a criminal.

I really liked that concept. What I’d like to see in the sermon is more focus on the hinge-point between those two journeys: that last night in the Upper Room. And remembering why. The Christ hymn from Philippians came to mind… as did the words of institution. Which made me think it would have been nice to celebrate communion together today. Particularly if the reason for celebrating Palm-Passion Sunday is the recognition that most people are not going to be part of mid-week services that help us follow Jesus into and out of Jerusalem.

Now that I’m thinking about it, starting Lent with the Christ hymn, carrying the theme of humility and service through the series and ending with this service at the Last Supper, headed to the cross might be fun to try some day.


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