Palm/Passion Sunday, April 14
Note: Writers on Sundays were asked to address the power of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in their lives.
“Jesus, Remember Me” Chalice Hymnal #569
“Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom.” Luke 23:42
Today churches all over the world begin their worship with a festive remembrance of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Children and adults alike will wave palm branches (or branches from trees native to their own regions) and sing joyous hymns of welcome to Jesus, son of David.
This Sunday has two names, however – Palm and Passion – because the church today celebrates two different but related aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry. After the procession that recalls Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, we switch almost abruptly to the primary focus of this Sunday. In most Western Christian churches, worship today centers on an extended reading of Christ’s Passion, this year from the gospel of Luke.
Luke’s recounting of the Passion story is unique among the four gospels, because even in his betrayal, suffering, and dying, Jesus continues to exercise a ministry of mercy, extending healing and forgiveness to those he meets. This is the same Jesus who preached the lavish mercy of God in parables (the lost sheep, the lost coin, the lost son) and challenged his hearers to be people of mercy (the good Samaritan).
When one of his followers cuts off the right ear of the high priest’s servant, Jesus issues a stern rebuke and heals the servant (22:51). He extends forgiveness to his executioners as he prays, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (23:34). The dying Jesus reaches out in mercy to one of the criminals with the assurance, “Truly, I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”
Prayer: On this Palm/Passion Sunday we welcome the one who not only taught us God’s mercy, but lived it even to his death. We sing and we pray: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Amen.
J. Michael McMahon