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Palm Sunday 2017

On Palm Sunday morning we began the service on the Market Square. We heard the reading of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem before processing around the church, singing All glory, laud, and honour to thee redeemer king. On entering the church the story of Holy Week continued as the Passion Narrative was read. There was a shift in mood in the church as we moved from shouts of ‘Hosanna’ to ‘crucify him.

Later in the afternoon singers from a number of parishes in the local area gather to sing the Cantata The Cross of Christ, put together in 1956 by the Royal School of Church Music as a musical meditation for Holy Week. These two services set us up for our observation of Holy Week as we prepare for Good Friday and Easter. But as I led these services half of my mind was in Egypt.

Coptic Christians had gathered in Egypt to celebrate Palm Sunday – much of what they were doing would have been familiar to us. But in the midst of their service horror struck as they were targeted by a suicide bomber.

It doesn’t seem so many years ago that the Good Friday Agreement brought a fragile peace to the ‘Troubles’ of Northern Ireland. Suicide bombings and vehicular terrorist attacks are not such a far cry from the world of two thousand years ago where insurrections and uprisings in and around Jerusalem were fairly common occurrences. Palm Sunday and Holy Week remind us that the people then thought that Jesus was the answer to the ‘troubles’ but they expected him to do it their way. Jesus was and is the answer but his plan was God’s plan – the greatest demonstration of love for the World and its peoples. God so loved the world that he gave us his Son… therefore in the midst of grief, of fear, of sorrow, of hopelessness we can find in him comfort and Peace.

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