I am opposed to reading the Passion narrative on Palm Sunday. I prefer to walk the way of the cross with Jesus from his Anointing at Bethany on the Saturday before his triumphal entry all the way to the events of Good Friday. Last year, we didn't read the Passion. Most people didn't even notice, but a few did, and objected to our omission. As liturgical scholar, the late Rev. Dr. Marion Hatchett said, "Don't make liturgical choices based on what you like."
This year we are reading the Passion, but we are saving it until the very end of the service on Palm Sunday. We'll process with palms singing "All glory, laud and honor." We'll hear the lessons from Isaiah and Philippians, and hopefully notice how they foreshadow and reflect on the glory of the cross, respectively. We'll hear the word preached, say the prayers, confess our sins, receive absolution and celebrate the Eucharist.
And then we'll sing the last two verses of "All glory, laud, and honor" as we make our way back to the pavement in front of the Narthex where, standing around a 10' cross, we will hear the passion read. When one of last year's objectors (a person with whom I can joke about these things) asked if we'd be reading the Passion this year, I told them "yes, just for you, but not until the very end." They responded, tongue firmly planted in cheek, "why are we so weird?"
We are kind of weird. I get that. We do funny things to make certain nuances a little less nuanced. On weird thing we do is expect folks to walk the Way of the Cross, at least partially, through the days of Holy Week. We expect that they will hear the Passion on Good Friday, the day the Passion was lived out, rather than on Sunday when we shout Hosanna and wave palm branches. We expect folks to wash each others feet and, while we've given up the Easter Vigil dream (for now), we hope that our people will spend an hour on Saturday afternoon waiting, albeit impatiently, while Christ lies in the tomb.
So this week, as I reflect on the Scriptures, you won't hear me pondering the Passion. It isn't time yet. I'll probably look at Bethany, where Jesus is anointed with nard. I'll surely give a nod to the Triumphal Entry. Next week, as our people walk, day by day, so will this blog, which, I suppose, is kind of a weird thing.