Email Devotion For Holy Week
Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. (Mark 11:8)
Church is over and I am collecting the leftover palms from the usher tables, so that I can wrap them up and save them for next year and the start of Lent 2019. These palms will be the fodder for the Shrove Tuesday fire which creates the ashes that I’ll mix together with some oil to make ashes for the March 6 start of the Lenten season. Mark your calendar now.
But as I pick up the oblong cardboard box which has held the palms for the morning, I find a collection of more than twenty-five palm crosses. Someone was very busy out in the narthex as worship was unfolding around the liturgical rhythm of the Palm Blessing, the reading of the Passion, and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. As I gather the palms and put them aside from the palm fronds that I am wrapping for next year, I think about the time, effort and care given to the creating of these mini-crosses. They should be shared. So I put one on each desk of the staff members in the Church Office complex. I put the rest in my office to take around with me for the remainder of Holy Week as I make communion visits or hospital calls, or home visits – most of those will happen with people who were not able to be in church on Palm Sunday.
As I make these simple plans in my head, I cannot help but think about these beautiful creations of joy that remind us of an ugly instrument of death. I think about the fact that the palm itself is in the process of drying out and dying, even while it reminds us of a cross that points beyond itself to a man whose death was reversed in a way that promises us the very same outcome to our lives. I think of the common theological turn of phrase that points to this instrument of death that promises us the gift of life. I think about the simple love given to the crafting of this cross, which reminds me of the great love given by a God who loves us beyond our belief.
All this from a simple little palm cross. I offer a silent thanks to whomever the crafter or crafters were that left these little treasures for me. They will be signs of the hope that points us beyond the betrayal of Thursday, the death of Friday, and the hopeless waiting of Saturday, and direct our attention to the glory of Easter dawn and God’s great gift of life.
So if your Palm Sunday palm frond is lying unloved in the back seats of your car, or crumpled under your pile of books on your night stand, or shoved into a drawer so the cat doesn’t chew on it and vomit all over your carpet … if in short, you have already moved on from Palm Sunday, maybe you want to consider retrieving this little talisman of the rhythm of Holy Week and the drama that unfolds from a cross that may have been much larger and more deadly than the potential cross you hold in your hand. But a cross, none-the less, which points you to that One who has redeemed you.
Thank you, to whomever were the crafters of my Palm Sunday devotional experience.