I wonder if we in the Church don't underplay the importance of Palm Sunday. That seems an odd statement - I mean, everyone loves Palm Sunday. But the day itself, the hinge that it forms is fantastic. And as I'm preparing for the Trinity 10 Sermon from Luke 19, it strikes me that in the One Year Series you get Palm Sunday three times.
One of the odd features (at least to Three Year folk) about the One Year series is that the Church Year itself starts off with Palm Sunday - that's the Gospel reading for Advent 1. So, early December - there's Palm Sunday.
Then, of course, there's the Calendar day of Palm Sunday in either late March or April - so roughly four months later. And while the Gospel reading for that day is the Passion, you generally also hear one of the Entrance Gospels at the beginning of service as well.
And then jump head a bit over another 4 months, and you have Trinity 10 - and this really is a Palm Sunday text. Jesus is weeping over Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
So you have these three Sundays, spread almost equidistantly around the year, all centering us on Palm Sunday. And not for the hoopla, not for the shouts of praise - on each of these Sundays the praise of Palm Sunday is secondary. In Advent the focus isn't praise, but rather, "Behold, your King is coming to you." On Palm Sunday, the focus isn't the praise so much as it is our Lord's Passion. And then on Trinity 10 we have Jesus weeping over Jerusalem and turning over the money changers' tables.
I think this is so informative for the Church. So often we want to make the focus of things our actions, our praise, our response - and if there ever was a text that would seem to lend itself to the idea of focusing upon our own praise, it would seem to be Palm Sunday. And yet, Palm Sunday shows up three times in the Church Year, and three times our focus is ripped off of our praise and thrust upon Christ Jesus, who comes to make peace for those who knew not the things that make for peace by His own death and resurrection.
What an elegant way to teach, to remind us that the Church is to be focused upon Christ Jesus and what He does so much more than upon our own action and power and might.