Eucharist – Palm Sunday – 28th March
When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
James Jacques Tissot, French painter and illustrator, painted the ‘Life of Christ’ series of paintings between 1884 and 1896. This week’s piece of art is called The Palm Sunday Procession in the Temple. It paints the picture from the Palm Gospel that we will hear proclaimed this weekend in Church.
Tissot was a popular Impressionist painter in Paris. But when his mistress died, something happened and he turned his life in the direction of Christ, beginning to paint scenes from the life of Jesus. From death, loss, and sadness, came a new life: a new way of living, a new way of being.
Jesus, typically robed in white, arrives in the Temple to shouts of joy and welcome. Women lift their babies to be blessed; a dancing troupe of young lads performs its finest jig; and the palms are waved as Jesus arrives at His Father’s house. Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!
It is hard, perhaps, to avoid the anguished faces of the men in the foreground. We presume they are the priests and religious Jews who tend the Temple night and day. They are faithful people, they are devoted people, they love that place for it is where God dwells. They cannot imagine what it might be like for their Temple not to be there. What do you think they might be saying in this scene?
“Not here! Anywhere but here…please…not in the Temple.”
“Where will this end? This is madness. This chaos will see the Romans destroy us all.”
“Holy God, we are sorry, forgive them, they do not know what they are doing!”
Just as we will never know what the Temple priests actually said, so we will never know how Jesus might be feeling as he approaches Jerusalem at the start of the week before his death.
He knows the danger he is in. What keeps him moving forward? Was Jesus scared?
In this victory parade, we wonder how the disciples are feeling? Was this really happening? The crowds getting larger and louder. Put yourself in the shoes of one of the disciples. How must it have felt to be shouting ‘Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna!’ at the top of your voice?
What we can be certain of is that this episode, and all the events of the coming week, is being done for you. It is God’s gift for you.
In these days, in this holiest of weeks, you may experience noise, distraction, and busyness. You may also be blessed with time, peace, and rest. Whatever this week holds, if you can, find a few moments each day, light a candle, and prepare your heart for what is to come. God will want to meet you, to show you Jesus, and to bring you home. That is the gift of this week.
you have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.