When I was young, Palm Sunday was simply Palm Sunday. Palms, hosannas, joyous music – a sort of mini-Easter.
Somewhere along the way Palm Sunday became Palm/ Passion Sunday. This meant that we began with the palms, hosanna and cheerful songs about the children singing to Jesus, but before long we were into the betrayal and Christ’s death on the cross.
That made Palm Sunday seem like a Trojan Horse. It looked like fun and games until you unpacked it. When you did, the upbeat party soon became a downbeat prelude to a memorial as the music changed from major to minor key. Instead of being part of the cheering crowd that was comfortably on Jesus’ side — “Go Jesus! Ride ’em!” — we found ourselves part of the crowd that shouted, “Crucify him, Crucify him.”
This was confusing.
But it was something besides confusing. It was true. We aren’t just the good guys, innocently cheering Jesus on. We have a part in the mess, in the awful that happens.
But seeing that painful truth — our part in the mess and owning it — can help us have eyes for something else besides — that God’s mercy and forgiveness are poured out for us, poured out all over us. When the hosannas of Palm Sunday have faded, praise for the deep love and mercy of God to us is the song that keeps on singing.