Monday, April 10, 2017

Reflection on Palm Sunday: Folding Palm Crosses and Laryngitis

This past Sunday marks the onset of Holy Week in my traditions. This means that we take on, in real time, the remembrance and commemoration of Jesus' last days leading up to his death on a Cross and his resurrection. Each day of Holy Week embodies another chapter in this sad story, but it also affirms and confirms the why of our being the Body of Christ. When Jesus tells us, after breaking bread for the blessing on the night before he dies, to remember him when we do the same, we sign up not just for a portion of the experience. We are on for the whole ride. That means being not only willing to be a witness to His Passion, death and resurrection. We are also become participants, members.

I "get" this understanding, and preach it every year. Don't just show up for Holy Week, let it work its way into your being. Let it become your life. Strike the uneasy balance between the chronological demands of life and the invitation to be alongside Christ as he walks the way of sorrows, the Way of the Cross. I get it, but that doesn't mean I am able to pick and choose the moment when time breaks open for me and I am forced to let go of my own expectations of my time, over and against God's intention for me to join Christ on God's time!

That happened early this year, due to two factors. One was out of my control, the other was firmly in my power to have forged a more efficient outcome. Both apparent failures gave me the boost I needed to get out of myself and into Holy Week.

The first was that on Friday, I got sick. A simple Spring cold, but enough of a virus to deplete me of energy and to deprive me of most of my voice. Imagine that: a priest who cannot preach for long, and who cannot chant or sing much at all at the onset of a week in which there is a service demanding the same every day of the week! Sometimes, two or three times in a day!

The second was that our annual preparation for Palm Sunday entailed folding palm crosses for folks. That activity means that every person receives blessed palms for the procession liturgy; and at the end of the service they are given a palm frond folded into a cross to take home as a memento of Christ's Passion. It's a lovely tradition, and one that has been fostered by a parishioner who remembers HOW to fold them every year...until this year. This year, she is living in Pennsylvania. She is not here to teach us.

I knew that, and decided to "lend a hand" by setting up a video of a palm folding. That way, people could see, learn and do! Great idea! Until that is, the video wouldn't play because the computer I wanted to use wouldn't connect to the network in the Parish Hall. Thank God for my wife who remembered she had one of Robin's crosses in our car. She went out and took it apart and we were able to reassemble the knowledge we needed...again.

But not until after I had wasted a half hour of people's time.


Here is how to make that simple the way:

So, reflection on Palm Sunday and the Passion of our Lord centered on those two experiences that will continue to color my Holy Week (and impact my folks). I am utterly reliant on the good grace of God for what little voice I can recover for the week...and once again awed and humbled by the truth that I cannot do this by myself. Holy Week is not something that happens because I and our worship leaders are able and adept at delivering excellent liturgies. It happens because we are all willing to draw near, participate and be together while remembering what it really means to be the Body of Christ...when the body of Christ faces its greatest trials.

A blessed Holy Week to all. See you in the resurrection!

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