Commencing today with Palm Sunday, and ending with what is known as "Holy Saturday", Holy week aims to commemorate the passion of Jesus. Palm Sunday recalls the acclamation given Jesus as he entered Jerusalem on a colt, with the crowds proclaiming Him Messiah. In the Anglo-Catholic tradition, a number of services have been adopted, including the Palm Procession, the Veneration of the Cross, the burial of the Cross and Host in the Easter Sepulchre, and ceremonies with the new fire and the paschal candle. These services originated from the fourth century, when the notion of Holy Week was instituted, and were accompanied by a fast.
The tendency of modern christians to skip from Palm Sunday straight to the resurrection, reveals a tendency to focus on the victory and acclamation of Jesus without recognising the real cost, not only of Jesus' work, but of the discipleship to which we have been called. When we consider the events of the week leading up to the resurrection, we are reminded of the fragility of our own discipleship. The disciples abandoned Jesus, the crowds turned against him, the opposition to his ministry, until now held in check, is unleashed with mighty fury. They say that a week is a long time in politics, and this is certainly true in the life of Jesus, moving from the triumph of Palm Sunday to the desolation of the cross within days. "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" warns Paul.
A glib proclamation of the victory of the resurrection without due consideration to the meaning of the way in which it transpired devalues the work of God in the cross. For it was in the depths of despair that salvation for all found its root. The events leading up to the crucifixion are a powerful reminder of the work of God in the midst of despair and desolation. When Jesus gave himself up in powerlessness, he experienced the resurrection power of God. We too ought to give ourselves up in the same way.
March 31, 1996