At last, the sun is shining, and more is expected over the next few days. I am writing this on Palm Sunday and this afternoon Mary and I walked the fields near the Rectory.
Everywhere, sodden ground bears testimony to the recent rains but today is dry, with a hint of warmth in the sun. Spring, nature’s season of rebirth, is upon us and winter will soon recede in our memories.
Palm Sunday marks a day of hope. When Jesus rode into Jerusalem, the crowds sang Hosannah, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Many thought a new age was dawning. Yet, within days, shouts of ‘Hosannah’ turned instead to ‘Crucify’. As that day closed, Jesus lay dead and his grief-stricken followers surely thought it was all over.
Recent years have offered many false starts, many Palm Sundays. Each time the clouds parted, each time we dared to cry ‘Hosannah’, a new problem arose and darkness returned. From the distant tragedy of earthquake and war, to the loss of someone close, death pains us all. In response, all too often death is shut away behind the closed curtains of a hospital bed and camouflaged with euphemisms. We grieve, but silently.
The horror of Calvary and Jesus’ crucifixion can’t be hidden. This is Holy Week, when life and death, hope and hopelessness, good and evil all struggle together. In Gethsemane, in the Governor’s palace and, above all, on the cross, this struggle is played out in increasingly public view. Then, as night falls, Jesus body is sealed in a tomb, while his followers, fearful they could be next, retreated behind closed doors; death is hidden away once more.
We long for Easter: the day of resurrection, but do not rush. First, death must be confronted, for without the death of the old, there can be no life of the new. As night falls on Calvary, let grief out; then, and only then, will there be space for resurrection to enter in.
Rev Philip Payne
Good Friday 2023
The Notice Sheet for 9th April can be found here