To you all,

Welcome to Holy Week…. Hosanna!

Hosanna? Does it sound odd in your ears? It does in mine, if I’m honest. Easter is going to feel odd to us all this year. We need to prepare ourselves, our hearts for that fact.

Through this week and beyond, I feel we may steer slightly away from the Psalms and towards the Prophets. Their anguished and righteous call for a return to God, a change of heart, a new way of living may resonate strongly this year as we journey towards what will be something of a whispered but profoundly special Easter, unique in all our lives. None of us will go unchanged by this Lent, Passiontide, and Easter.

And the truth is, I’m seeing a lot of Easter hope growing in the parishes where I live and work – a new neighbourliness, a sense of love and care and service, a strange but beautiful flourishing of values we’d collectively been in danger of forgetting.

A normal year – and our Passtiontide and Easter rituals and services are in standard celebratory mode. Fantastic. Hosanna indeed!

But this year – as we listen for rumours of hope, rumours of an empty tomb, of impossible encounters – let’s travel through Holy Week together, turning Passiontide into Compassiontide, sharing our suffering and pain, and living it out in the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ. A Hosanna! as strange, as unlikely, as plain silly as a king riding in triumph…. on a donkey, for Heaven’s sake. No, for our sake.

And now, to Canon Alan Deboo’s profound and powerful reflection on what Palm Sunday and Holy Week can mean to us this year, of all years, if we allow it to…

Almighty and everlasting God,
who, of thy tender love towards mankind,
hast sent thy Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ,
to take upon him our flesh, and to suffer death upon the cross,
that all mankind should follow the example of his great humility:
mercifully grant, that we may both follow the example of his patience,
and also be made partakers of his resurrection;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

The Collect for the Sunday Next Before Easter {Palm Sunday} from the Book of Common Prayer

On the morning of Palm Sunday Jesus enters Jerusalem in fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah:

‘…behold, your king comes to you…. humble and riding on a donkey.’

Zecharaiah 9:9

To proclaim his own humility would be an arrogant contradiction, so Jesus lets the submissive beast of burden declare that he comes in docility and peace. The King of Kings rides a donkey: surely this mocks all the vanity and self-importance to which human beings are so susceptible. In a vivid act of lowliness Jesus demonstrates not only his great humility but also his patience with the people of Jerusalem. He wants them to see and be led in their own good time to understand and follow the example of the Messiah who comes in meekness, not to be served but to serve.

The patience of the Lord Jesus Christ shines forth in every moment of Holy Week. The patience with which he bears betrayal, arrest, abandonment, suffering and death is not that of some privileged super being, different from ordinary mortals. It is the patience of one of us, one who has taken upon him our flesh, our nature, our experience of suffering, failure, despair and death.

By allowing Jesus’ example and grace to inspire and empower us, we can know his patience, not only to survive this time of pandemic and lockdown, but to deepen our discipleship. And because by grace the Lord Jesus triumphed over suffering and death and was raised to new life, we can be joyful in hope of eventual resurgence beyond the trials of this particularly testing Holy Week.

Lord Jesus Christ
in this sacred and solemn week
when we see again the depth and mystery
of your redeeming love,
help us to follow where you go,
to stop where you stumble,
to listen when you cry,
to hurt when you suffer,
to bow our heads in sorrow when you die,
so that when you are raised to new life
we may share your endless joy. Amen.

From the Book of Common Order of the Church of Scotland

Canon Alan Deboo

Just a month ago, on March 6th, one of the great jazz pianists of the C20th died: McCoy Tyner. Tyner’s music is full of his spirituality (the spirituality he shared with his collaborator, John Coltrane.) On this track, His Blessings, you can imagine the panorama: all the rush and press and strange triumph of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord!

Lord God, thank you for the life, the witness and the gifts of McCoy Tyner. Amen

Canon Gerald Osborne is journeying through Holy Week with the gospel of St Mark. He is posting a series of video ‘travel logs’ as it were, day by day giving the story as Mark tells it. Follow Gerald (and Mark) on the Deanery Facebook page:

Posted by Team editor