I’ve posted before about my difficulties with Easter. The same general issues apply to Palm Sunday as well for me because it is another day typically marked by nice, bright colors and nice, celebratory worship and nice, fancy food at fellowship afterwards. But Palm Sunday is actually pretty rich, provocative terrain for Christians. It’s about high expectations that don’t get met in a way that is initially understood or embraced. It’s the glory before the fall. The opening scene of a tragedy ending in triumph.
Here’s a hymn by Thomas H. Troeger that I think captures the spirit and themes of Palm Sunday quite well.
A Cheering, Chanting, Dizzy Crowd
A cheering, chanting dizzy crowd
had stripped the green trees bare,
and ailing Christ as king aloud,
waved branches in the air.
They laid their garments in the road
and spread his path with palms
and vows of lasting love bestowed
with royal hymns and psalms.
When day had dimmed down to deep’ning dark
the crowd began to fade
‘til only trampled leaves and bark
were left from the parade.
Lest we be fooled because our hearts
have surged with passing praise,
remind us, God, as this week starts
where Christ had fixed his gaze.
Instead of palms a winding sheet
will have to be unrolled,
a carpet much more fit to greet
the king a cross will hold.
– by Thomas H. Troeger (1985)