This Sunday we try to celebrate Palm Sunday during this health crisis. It certainly will be odd, as we “shelter in place” or perhaps this week we can “Pray in place.” We can celebrate Holy Week no matter where we are.
Regardless of our situation, I prefer to call this Sunday, Passion Sunday. Passion is an interesting word to use to describe this day of Holy Week. Why “passion?” Passion is “a strong and barely controllable emotion.” Whose emotion? Obviously passion here is referring to Christ’s barely controllable emotion, his drive to suffer in order to be raised.
I would suggest that passion not only refers to Christ on this day, but also to us. For most, there is a feeling of compassion for Christ’s suffering. In some small way, we join in solidarity with Christ’s suffering by our reading of the Passion. Some will think, “thank goodness we won’t have to stand all that time as we read the Passion.”) Granted, it takes a lot of effort to stand for ten minutes (sarcasm), but little compared to the suffering Christ endured. Nevertheless, it seems as though there is a particular pall that falls on Christians during Holy Week. There is a palpable sense of sorrow and empathy for Christ, despite knowing Easter is coming soon.
I think this compassion and empathy we feel is our passion this Sunday and the rest of the week. We reflect more acutely on the suffering Christ endured for us. We cringe at the thought of thorns pressed on a head, the sound and imagined feel of a scourging, the humiliation of a man, the hammering of nails, the lifting of a cross and the point of a spear. We feel the darkness of the closing tomb. We have -com-passion (suffering with) for Christ. We emotionally and spiritually suffer with Christ.
Perhaps on this Palm Sunday we can remind ourselves that Passion Sunday is more than receiving palms, the gaslighting of humanity in light of what will happen this Thursday and Friday. Passion Sunday is more than the satisfaction of making a cross out of your new palm. The passion is for sure Christ’s, but it is also ours, to suffer with him.
ATTENTION: WE WILL BE HANDING OUT PALMS!
On Sunday from 9 am till noon, we will be handing out blessed palms near the main entrance of the church (while of course practicing social distancing.) Drive through the circle drive and we will come to you with your palm. Perhaps on returning home you can read the Passion as a family?