Today is Palm Sunday, a day of complex emotions. We wave Palm branches in celebration of Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem. But we wave them with some reserve—because we’re Presbyterians, we haven’t had that much coffee, and we worry we’ll look silly. And we’ve flipped through the bulletin and know that by the end of the service we’ll turn toward Good Friday, toward Jesus’s death on the cross. The triumphal entry, though eternal, is fleeting.
But for the moment, Palm Sunday remembers palm branches torn from trees and waved about—exhilerated defoliation—and cobblestones, prepared to sing, should the spirit call on their foices. It is the Pharisees watching, concerned that they have lost control. (When we think of the Pharisees and their concern, we give our branches an extra wave. Better an Enthusiast than a Pharisee.)
Palm Sunday is about revolution and the hopes of the downtrodden. It is a an unbroken colt, mocking of Caesar’s hagiography, yet remembered for millenia.
It is coats, lining a dusty street, perhaps to honor the man passing, perhaps in search of a blessing for their owner.
It is king who is not a king, but who is the redeemer, the king of kings, enters a city that never took well to kings.
It is crowd, which (today at least) welcomes Jesus. It is the promise of hospitality and the anticpation of betrayal. It is every member of that crowd. Their hopes,fears, and aspirations. It is a people in bondage yearning for freedom, a people who understand neither their bondage nor the freedom to come.
Palm Sunday is the raucous, unrestained joy of a project nearing completion, the crucifixion, which overshadows it all, and the resurrection, which illuminates everything