On Sunday we celebrate Christ’s joyous entry into Jerusalem, with crowds proclaiming Him as Messiah and strewing palm leaves before Him. From there we move to the solemnity of Holy Week in preparation for the celebration of the joy of His, and our, resurrection at Easter.
It will be very strange for us not to be celebrating together this year but the liturgy will be celebrated on Sunday, although I will be in splendid isolation, and the palm crosses will be distributed as best we can following government and the Bishops’ advice. While we will not be physically together, we can come together in prayer and focus on the meaning of this holy season for us in these unprecedented times.
Jesus enters Jerusalem in glory and for His disciples everything must have looked perfect; the messiah was recognised and everything was right with the world. Yet in a few short days the crowd turned, the life of Jesus, and that of His disciples were under threat, it seemed like there would be no place to turn, and fear took hold. For Jesus this was a time that had been foretold, a time He knew was coming; the fulfilment of God’s plan and yet, in the garden as He waited He prayed “Father, if it is your will, remove this cup from me, still not my will but yours be done”. The disciples, His constant companions, slept as in His fear and agony ‘great drops of blood formed like sweat and fell to the ground’. Jesus, in His humanity, felt fear and loneliness, yet, as He suffered on the cross He showed what true compassion and love is to His torturers; “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do.”
In these very difficult times, meditating on the events of Palm Sunday to Easter may bring us some comfort and hope. For many, these unprecedented times are bringing feelings of isolation and loneliness, fear for our personal safety and the safety of those we love, for some there is economic hardship and the fear of food deprivation.
In Jesus we have a God who understands our fear and our feelings of loneliness because He experienced those same feelings, but He teaches us to transcend this. Despite His fear and loneliness, the mockery and torture, He was still able to look out with love and compassion.
At this time we may feel there is little we can do for those throughout the world who are suffering but we can, following the example of Jesus, try to put aside our own fears and hold in our hearts and in our prayers those throughout the world who are feeling hopeless and helpless. It may not seem like much, but for anyone suffering to know that you are in someone’s thoughts, and held in love, can bring strength.
Jesus, and His disciples, lived through a terrifying time but then came the resurrection; strength, courage, joy, compassion and love once again filled the hearts of His followers. We are living through horrific times, but the light of the resurrection goes before us filling us with hope for the future. These times will end and bring with them the hope of a world changed for the better.
Follow Jesus through Holy Week, together with the rest of our family. Follow Him through a time of suffering and fear into the light of the resurrection.
May this Holy Week bring you strength and hope and may the joyous light of the resurrection fill you with love and compassion.
The Rev Jim Geen