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Palm Sunday, March 24, 2013

Today’s Reading | John 12:12–19

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,

          Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
               the King of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:

          “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming,
               sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify. It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!” (NRSV)


Palm Sunday presents a challenge for Fourth Presbyterian Church. Our population of children and young families is growing. We want the church to be a hospitable and joyful place. And there are few things in the life of our worship that are more cute and fun than when the children of the church process down the aisle on Palm Sunday, waving their palm fronds as the congregation sings “O Glory, Laud, and Honor.”

The challenge is that this story inaugurates the most holy, frightening, and lamentable week in the life of the church. Holy Week is a time each year when we remember that Christ goes before us to the cross because we have failed to follow God’s commands. Jesus was slain because we were not ready for his message of justice, freedom, and peace. The people who laid palms at his feet, and our repetition of that exercise, is largely a reminder that those who celebrated him on Sunday would desert him by Friday in his hour of greatest need.

There is a place where these two seemingly contradictory stories come together. Parents should want their children to be in a place that does not disregard the needs of the world, does not ignore human pain and suffering, and is honest about the ways we fall short of God’s will for our lives. As we celebrate today, let us remember that we are entering a week during which we are called to examine our own lives and to remember the story of Christ’s sacrifice. Let us not move too quickly to Easter Sunday, so that when it finally arrives, we will have taken a close enough look at Christ’s death to remember why resurrection is the thing in life most worth celebrating.


God, may this week be an important one for me. May I listen attentively to the story of Jesus Christ, my Savior, and understand more fully the gift of his life, death, and resurrection. Amen.

Written by Adam H. Fronczek, Associate Pastor for Adult Education and Worship

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