Well, this is the Sunday that preachers all over think about for weeks before it gets here. The dilemma: What to do–preach Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday, or both?

As I explained to the group that met for Lectionary discussion last night, that decision is largely made in the context of a) pastoral habit (or the design of the worship committee) and b) local custom. For the congregation I serve, since we do not have a Good Friday service, and since the Maundy Thursday Tenebrae is rather lightly attended, I tend to include both a Palm and Passion narrative on this Sunday.

Mark’s description of Jesus’ triumphant entrance into Jerusalem ends with the peculiar details in verse 11. What does the gospel writer mean when he says that Jesus looked around at everything, saw that it was late, and left? It almost seems as if the crowd has already abandoned Jesus at this point, and that it is too late for Jesus to do anything about what is going to happen.

The group and I spent time last night comparing the synoptic Passion narratives, looking for differences and similarities. We will proclaim this portion of Mark through dramatic reading. It is my firm belief that this particular text proclaims itself, that all the truth and terrible beauty that is to be found in it is in the reading of it.

So, preachers and students of the Word, what are your thoughts on the Palm/Passion conundrum, and how will the good Word be proclaimed where you are this Sunday?

22 thoughts on “Tuesday Lectionary Leanings

  1. I’m intrigued! The C of E lectionary has Passion Sunday always as the 5th in Lent, so we’ve just had it and are looking towards Palm Sunday now. We’re firmly into Passiontide, though, with crosses and statues veiled (which used to scare me so much as a child) and have 450 palm crosses duly made up and ready for Sunday.

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  2. We’re sticking with the Palm Sunday liturgy for Sunday and holding the Passion service on Good Friday. Our Good Friday attendance is quite good normally, so I feel confident in keeping the two services distinct.

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  3. It was an interesting time wasn’t it one moment cheering crowds, the next it seemed they had all gone, I woke up at 2am on Sunday and totally changed my sermon to a Narrative Sermon from the Greeks perspective…I just could not sleep. It was well recieved, though unusually for me I had to read it word for word as I could not remember what I’d written. I have posted a transcript minus the response on my blog….it was the grain of wheat and the crowds reaction to it that caught my imagination from John 20-20-33.I love the sound of a dramatic reading!

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  4. We use some kind of dramatic reading each year on Palm/Passion Sunday. The service begins with the usual palm-related festivities, including a reading of the gospel lesson. For Year B, we have a set of monologues I wrote based on Mark (The anointing woman, Peter, Pilate and Mary the mother of James and Joses), talking us from Bethany to the cross. These will be interspersed with verses of scripture and special music. We did something like this last year for Matthew, but using the scripture, and for Luke the year before. That was a Communion Sunday. When we got to the part of the story about the Last Supper, we had Communion, then continued the readings. That service involved all the children, and it was powerful! During Communion (by intinction, which we don’t always have), I made a choice to have no music, but there was a gentle whisper of children’s voices throughout the sanctuary. For that church, which had been mostly grey-haired the previous year, it was an exquisite moment. But back to this year: I’m working on speeches for two or three children to do interspersed with Mark 11:1-11, to balance the latter part of the service. I don’t find that people who have just started attending church in recent years (most of our younger folk are in this category) even think about coming to church on Maundy Thursday, so I feel strongly about reminding them on Palm Sunday of what is coming during the week before we meet again for Easter’s Alleluias.

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  5. I am going with Palms. This year the image of a protest march has captivated me. I see this celebration of an alternate kingship under the shadow of Imperial rule and see echos of anti-globalization protests in Seattle, or civil rights marches in the 1960’s. And I think we are still called to the streets to celebrate the alternative to Empire.

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  6. Let’s talk about Wednesday.There’s a chance I might have to lead the midweek service…and pick up on a lenten series regarding Jonah….the topic is to be comparing Jonah’s reaction to God for sparing Ninnevah….to the Prodigal Son…etc.Anyone have any to the point thoughts on this? Come visit my blog and leave me a note 🙂

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  7. I’m intrigued by this dilemma (grin) Kathryn wrote in January about having the Ephiphany service in a sparcely attended church,and I’d never thought about the implications for Holy week. (As I keep saying my local church is not liturgical – and we don’t use the lectionary)This year we’ll have a service Maundy Thursday and on Easter Sunday. Last year it was Good Friday and the Sunday. I’ve been away for the past two Sundays (here in Tallinn, but I loved the idea that Kathryn’s church is firmly in passiontide. I like to use Holy week to read the different accounts of the passion for myself – and today I finished the Bible in 90 days – so can focus on the cross and anticipate the resurrection.

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  8. I am doing passion this year. The local ministerium insists on doing a service every night of the week during Holy Week and my snooty group will not come to any of them.PS – Every night of the week – including the Sunday night of Palm Sunday – means all the pastors end up with diptheria by the end of Easter.

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  9. Help. I’m locked out of my room in the seminary. I don’t know where my keys are (prob inside) adn the roommate is on ‘walk about’exam tomorrow and prayer meeting now. please join me in prayer. Thanks

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  10. As I look at that foreboding ending, I sort of wish I were preaching the Palm Sunday text. Rats.On the other hand, my preparations for Sunday are nearly complete, aside from a rehearsal with the readers tonight. Yay!

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  11. praise God! the janitor came home 2 hours before expected and let me into my room. It’s 10 pm now and my roommate’s not back yet -off to study for an exam tomorrow. yikes!no thoughts of passion or palms here too tired. sigh. but Easter is a great time and it comes soon and very soon.

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  12. LOL – That might be one of Lorna’s best insights ever! “Easter is a great time and it comes soon… very soon.”As for my predicament blame it on those crazy Church of God folks who are playing their ‘but we’ve always done it’ card. This year their own pastor is out of play due to surgery so the rest of us are picking up that slack. This WILL be the camel that breaks all of our backs and it will be a ‘no go’ for next year… at least for this pastor (my church quit long ago).I’ll round-up some tonight, maybe a little tomorrow.

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  13. Wow folks you are all so well prepared…Lorna praying for you for the exams.I am still struggling with Sundays texts…then straight after the service I’m off to do some training for a Mind Body Soul stall!

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  14. Alright, a moment to unwhine… I have done this before and I think I am going to do it again this Sunday where I take the texts from the lectionary Passion narratives (this year mainly John) and just ask question after question.”Did Judas betray Jesus for the money or the notoriety?””Did his heart leap into his throat when he heard the soldiers approaching from a distance?””What hurt worse, the thorns in the head or the idea that those inflicting the thorns were the very ones his death would save?””Which hurt more….to be called by God to lose his life so that we might obtain salvation or did it hurt more to be salvation rejected?”The name of the sermon is ‘salvation rejected’Anyway, maybe more than you wanted to know, but I thought I should at least attempt to be helpful. 🙂

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