The Reading of the Passion will be uploaded to our church website today and I will attempt to live stream a service this morning.
The traditional elements by which this day has been commemorated from ancient times are the Procession of Palms and the Proclamation of Our Lord’s Passion. On the face of it the first of these is difficult to recreate liturgically in this time of relatively deserted streets and empty church buildings. We are however asked to display greenery on our doors and in windows this year and, if you have a palm cross from a previous year that has survived the burning, then why not put that up too?
Also deliberately missing in this service, is the formal confession of sins. In the long reading this is expressed by us as participants entering the drama, standing among the crowd that calls for Jesus’ execution. ‘His blood be upon us and our children!’ sounds like a terrible curse, but Matthew is suggesting that although unwittingly for them, the sacrificial blood of Christ brings life and cleansing to generations of believers.
Today is the start of a continuum that will take us through the arrest, trial, crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Throughout the worldwide church, the repeated rituals, year by year, of this holiest of weeks, always take place in and speak to a particular context. Globally, we are all caught up in a Passion Drama that has a personal effect on numerous individual lives. We feel, and indeed are, vulnerable. Life for each of us is arrested; cherished plans are on hold, loved ones out of physical reach, we all face a trial to one degree or another and many encounter their own mortality and the death of loved ones. Christ has walked this way and accompanies us still, whether or not we yet see him with the eyes of Easter faith.
(Apologies for the low level of the audio on this video)