From Olivet they followed
mid an exultant crowd,
the victory palm branch waving,
and chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of earth and heaven
rode on in lowly state,
nor scorned that little children
should on his bidding wait.
Hosanna Loud Hosanna, United Methodist Hymnal 278, vs. 2
37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: 38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” 39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” 40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” Luke 19:28-40
The Palm Sunday narrative sets the stage for the rest of this holy week. The setting is Jerusalem and the characters are introduced – Jesus, the Disciples, the crowd, the religious and political authorities. The key to all dramatic stories is tension and certainly, paradox and tension are integral to the scene on Palm Sunday and the whole Passion narrative.
Moments of tensions and paradox illuminated the Gospel throughout my time in service in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Indeed, tension remains central to Palm Sunday in Jerusalem every year. The very reality of life in Israel and Palestine creates tensions between oppression and celebration. While some of my Bethlehem neighbors and colleagues receive a permit to travel to Jerusalem for Holy Week, they still must pass through a checkpoint. Moreover, many people do not receive permits and are unable to join the sacred parade marking Christ’s Entry in Jerusalem. The injustice of the checkpoint and permit systems collides with the celebration of the day. Yet, this is the space where life is lived, amidst the tension between the holy and the unholy.
Lord God, as we enter this Holy Week, prepare our hearts and minds for the tension and drama of Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection. Open our eyes to the profound truth present in the paradoxes of this week in our ancient worship and in our contemporary world. Through Jesus Christ the Lord of heaven and earth. Amen.
Devotion written by Grace Killian, Global Ministries Young Adult Fellow who served in Bethlehem 2013 to 2015
Olive wood wall is a project of the Jerusalem YWCA. Palm Sunday walk in Jerusalem 2015 are represented in the three other photographs, all pictures taken by Rev. Kristen L. Brown