Descending Into Easter

“When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, ‘Who is this?’  The crowds were saying, ‘This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.’” (Matthew 21:10-11, NRSV)

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Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week, and it marks the journey of Jesus from the Mount of Olives into the city of Jerusalem. As Jesus made his way into the city, crowds gathered alongside the road as if watching a parade. In a coronation-like procession, people began waving palm branches and shouting,

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

This procession is often referred to as Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. His glory was short-lived. As we will experience throughout the coming week in our array of worship services, the journey from Palm Sunday to Easter is a journey filled with suspense and suffering. Those who gathered on the road to hail Jesus’ ascent to the throne over Israel (and the world!) on Palm Sunday would witness his descent as a convicted criminal who was sentenced to die on Good Friday. We are all tempted to celebrate the triumphal entry and then return for the victory of Easter without having to endure the suspense and the suffering.

The whole story of our salvation is summed up in Holy Week. On Palm Sunday, our Savior came announcing the good news of God’s love for all people that would establish justice and peace. Like many of those who responded to Jesus’ offer of love and grace, we find ourselves in need of healing—of being made whole. Like Judas and the other disciples, in spite of the gift of God’s love, we betray him at worst, or desert him at best, and seek to provide for our security. Our choices send Jesus to the cross where he dies with love on his lips for each of us. On Easter, as much as we try to live lives that are less than what God would have us to live, God doesn’t give up on us, and he raises Jesus to new life—thus making it possible for you and me to enjoy a new life, too.

I invite you to experience the whole journey during Holy Week. Join us for as many of the worship experiences as possible. I promise you the fullness of the Holy Week journey will deepen your understanding and appreciation of the power of the resurrection we celebrate on Easter. But don’t experience the journey alone. Think of someone you know who could use some good news in their life, too. And invite them to join you.

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Rev. Dale Cohen
Senior Pastor of Canterbury United Methodist Church

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