It is Palm Sunday morning. As is my habit during Holy Week, I am making hot cross buns. (I start from the excellent recipe in Br Rick Curry’s The Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking and vary a bit to suit my taste.) While the dough is rising, here are just a few thoughts on the LCC lectionary readings for the day.
Both of the readings (from Rev 19 and Matthew 21 – www.liberalcatholic.org/days) center around praise of Christ. Alleluia; for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth: let us be glad and rejoice and give honour to him. And again, Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. Those in some other denominations read the Passion narrative today. However, in our lectionary, we read from the Passion every day of Holy Week except today. As the collect says, this day is Christ’s one earthly triumph.
Praise can be an uncomfortable practice for educated, sophisticated modern folks. We may be embarrassed, thinking of overly emotional worship services and cloying “praise music.” Perhaps precisely due to this resistance, praise is all the more important for us. Praise carries us beyond the limits of our small selves, into the wonder of a greater reality. The Triune God is inherently ecstatic, each person pouring over into the others, and the Divine pouring over into creation. We exist as a direct result of God’s ecstasy, and we mirror God in our own ecstasy. True ecstasy (standing outside ourselves) carries us beyond all of our limited reality, including our emotional states, and should not be confused with the manipulation of emotions.
We should also remember where Christ’s one earthly triumph took him. He enters Jerusalem to shouts of praise, and this week ends in the cross, laying down his life, for the sake of a new Way. Likewise, the shouts of praise of the elders before the throne in Revelation are not the exaltation of a distant potentate, but joy in God who draws all of us into his shared ecstatic existence. Triumph, praise, ecstasy, and self-gift dance together this Sunday: they hand us palm branches and invite us to join with them.
(PS to the Nashvillians – There is no Free Communion Service today. Easter Sunday we will meet at 11 am at the home of S. Contact me if you need directions.)