Monday, March 17, 2008
I was brought up in the Protestant tradition where Palm Sunday was the day for marching bands, palm waving and hosannas. It was not to be confused with the events that occur just a few days later.
Imagine my horror the first time I experienced Palm Sunday in the Episcopal church... where the service starts out with a parade around the chancel, but then things get very ugly as the Passion narrative is read (or worse, acted out.) I was flabbergasted. "Give the man a few days to enjoy the ride," I thought. Betrayal and death will come soon enough.
I've had to endure many a Palm Sunday since that first one, and I have to admit the tradition has grown on me. Ask anyone who's life has changed in a matter of minutes. They will tell you that security is an illusion, that all we truly have is the moment we're living in.
For us to go from "Hosanna in the Highest!" to "Crucify him!" in less than fifteen minutes, then, is not so unlikely.
I have avoided crowds most of my life. They scare me. There is a crowd mentality that takes over and it can be nasty and unpredictable. In Jerusalem the crowd was swayed to blood lust. Those who would have been sickened by it probably stayed home. There were several Palm Sundays in the beginning of my life as an Episcopalian that I found one reason or another to stay home too. But showing up is important. Showing up and standing up for what we believe is probably one of the most important choices we can make. Even if it seems to make no difference at the time.