Passiontide

At some point during my formation I picked up an odd habit which I commend to you, irregular though it is.

The problem it solves is this: Palm Sunday has long felt to me to be cluttered and clunky.

Passionweek

The Sunday worship that day is made to work too hard – stretching as it does from Palm Sunday to Good Friday, and often including a dramatised reading of the Passion. The logic is that much of the congregation will not attend the services of the triduum, and this Janus service prevents them reaching Easter Day without encountering the Passion. Emotionally it is exhausting, and I for one find it very hard to hold together in one service the twin faces of Christ the King – like trying to look at two sides of a coin at the same time.

(And if I hear one more sermon about “the crowd that shouted ‘hosanna’ also shouted ‘crucify’,” I shall run amok!)

Instead, I have found it works rather well to read the Passion on the fifth Sunday of Lent (sometimes called Passion Sunday) – this kicks off the tone of the next fortnight, especially if the liturgical colour is also changed to red for this week. Then Palm Sunday is free to concentrate on the Triumphal Entry in the context that has been set by the previous week. Instead of a quick burst of meditation on the events of that last week – trying to do it, as it were, in real time – we can take a little more time to reflect, to wonder and to immerse ourselves in the great journey undertaken for us.

This is not a perfect solution – lectionary readings set for Lent 5 are rather nice, and omitting them is a loss – but I found it works better than trying to fit everything into Palm Sunday.

Picture: Entry of Christ into Jerusalem (1320) by Pietro Lorenzetti: [1][2]

Passiontide liturgies and other thoughts on Lent may be found in last year’s post.

Lent, why bother?” – for three views of Lent very different from mine.

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Author: @RoffenWorship

A Slightly Welsh Priest

2 thoughts on “Passiontide”

  1. Dear RevTeaPot,
    Palm Sunday, I believe, is only ‘cluttered’ if the liturgy fails to remind us that the King we welcome reigns from the cross and his glory is formed and revealed in and through suffering. The Passion is intrinsic to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and with it Palm Sunday would be empty if not meaningless.

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    1. True, but by the same logic we may as well put Christmas in there too. Holy Week gives us the chance to walk through the whole Passion at a steady pace, to arrive at the glory of the Paschal victory. No need to cram it all in one hour.

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