I love our liturgy and our lectionary! I really do. But this day – called “Palm Sunday” or “Passion Sunday” depending on where you are – just tears me up. We start with the marvelous procession with palms and hosannas out on the street. Then in the long reading of the Gospel, we crucify him again.
I always have liturgical whiplash at the end of this Sunday’s service. Today was no different.
I’m reminded of these lines from Richard Wilbur’s poem:
It takes a sky-blue juggler with five red balls
To shake our gravity up.
And surely this young man from Galilee has shaken up our gravity. He has turned the Torah upside down. He has brought the outsiders inside. He has brought promise of a whole new reign of justice and caritas.
And this week we’ll go liturgically through his death. Again. Yet again. Just like we do every Holy Week. Year after year after year.
Today, as all our parishioners gathered on the sidewalk outside our little parish, with palm fronds in hand … and then processed into the church singing “All glory, laud, and honor,” it was difficult for me to join in the joyful chorus. Because I knew where the Gospel reading was going to take us. Where it takes us every year. It was going to take us to a man abandoned by his closest friends. To a man crying, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” To a man dying a horrible death.
We go through this cycle every year. Advent. Christmas. Epiphany. Lent. Holy Week. And it’s always the same. We wind up killing this sky-blue juggler who shakes up our gravity. The weight of it today was almost more than I could bear … as the liturgy moved from “All glory, laud and honor” to “O sacred head, sore wounded, defiled and put to scorn.”
And so I wept through too much of today’s service.
When will quit killing the sky-blue juggler who shakes up our gravity?
Lord, have mercy.