The service of Palm Sunday at St. John’s is March 29th at 8:00, 9:00 and 11:15 am. This ancient liturgy is found in the Book of Common Prayer beginning on page 270.
It is called “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday.” This title explains well what the day is about. Using this liturgy we progress from joy and triumph of discovering Jesus as the Messiah to His suffering and death! We begin with the “Liturgy of the Palms” and the service concludes with the “Liturgy of the Passion.”
The service opens with the “messianic entrance” of Jesus into Jerusalem. The Messiah has arrived! People wave palm branches and run to meet Jesus, crying, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!” (Mark 11:9-10) But this excitement and hope of the crowd moves us to a penitential Eucharist that is dominated by the solemn proclamation of the Passion Gospel of St. Mark 14:32-15:47.
In place of a spoken sermon, today we provide silence. Silence to meditate on the details of Mark’s Passion narrative. These details are divinely provided to explain that any and all sins are sins committed against God Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.
Today by means of this sacred liturgy we begin our most solemn walk. Today we stand in procession with our palms, and with the “fullness of faith” we proclaim Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords, praising from our heart the Son of David! Today we walk in procession as one who has been given a special grace, that certain advantage the first crowd didn’t have. We know the “why” to Jesus’ passion; and we know the eternal significance His triumph stands for. We know and proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord and the glory of the Father (Phil 2:11). Jesus is the Son of David… He is the Son of God.
Today we grow deeper in our understanding of why Simeon said of Jesus that He was born as “a sign of contradiction,” a “sign” that is understood by those who truly seek God, but He is a sign that will be despised by most. Today we kneel in silence and in communion with our God knowing that Jesus sweated blood through His prayers and His passion to break the bonds of death and hell. His resurrection is His “sign” of His victory over death and the grave. Divine Love redeemed us. This love continues to redeem our every day assisting us to put to flight the wickedness of sin and cleave to a life controlled by the Spirit. (Galatians 5:16ff)
Jesus has restored original innocence to the fallen (Matthew 9:16-17) and He gives interior joy to all who mourn. (Matthew 5:4) He casts out pride and bitterness from us so we can have room to receive the peace and concord of Heaven upon earth! (Matthew 9:1-8)
How blessed we are to be baptized into this holy mystery. Today as we kneel at the Altar rail and receive Holy Communion the beloved Son of God has again joined our soul to Heaven and we receive redeeming love. (BCP 287)