I will begin with a confession. This is my fifth time through the Revised Common Lectionary as a preacher, but the first time I will be preaching on Palm Sunday in Year B. In past years, I have used a Passiontide drama I wrote in 2003 based on the readings from Mark’s gospel. This year it will be used on Maundy Thursday, so I am staring down eleven verses that end in a peculiarly non-triumphant fashion. Perhaps you are, too.

Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:11, NRSV)

It was already late.

That phrase captivates me, and I think it may be the hook for my sermon, in which I hope to bring the listeners into the moment with Jesus and the disciples, to feel the tension and the danger of being in Jerusalem and under threat from the religious leaders.

From the Passion readings, I plan to draw on Philippians, which emphasized the dual nature of Jesus Christ, reminding us that he came among us “in human likeness” and “in human form.” At the beginning of Holy Week, it feels important to be aware that the one who would be lifted up lived in a human body.

What are your thoughts for Palm/Passion Sunday? Will it be straight up Palms? A look into the Passion? Or some combination? Share your plans in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “Revised Common Lectionary: Palms v. Passion Sunday

  1. I too am preaching Sunday on the same text and here is the unbelieable part….I am focused on Mark 11:11 as well. Jesus rides in silent…..and goes in to the temple as the Liberator and he is there to celebrate Passover commemorating liberation…the Exodus….and he goes to the center for religious life, the temple….and he “looks around takes it all in….but by now it is late….and so he went back to Bethany with the Twelve”….there is a lot right there in those words.
    So Jesus rides in….shouting…noise….celebration….pushing and shoving in the crowd perhaps….then he goes to the temple….to pray? to look around? it is Passover…. it is late….perhaps dark….the crowd has gone….colt is returned….he is alone….maybe he withdrew from people for some peace and quiet….for a chat with the Divine….and then he goes out to find the twelve….his closest friends….
    interesting to see where we end up with this…..prayers for your time spent in Mark 11:11….

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  2. Easter will be my last day at my current church so this Holy Week has taken on a special challenge. Back a number of years ago, in a different congregation I took up the theme of Jesus being a different kind of hero. I began the sermon with a video clip of Holding on for a Hero (Shrek). I’m working on reviving that message this year.

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    1. Oh, Sara. That is poignant timing. I’ve done that kind of departure schedule, too, although it was in an interim, so the Easter hope they anticipated was the arrival of a new settled pastor.

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  3. Aww, I love the photo. I just found out I am preaching Sunday (yes, we are a little loose in planning) so I came here to start up my mind. Glad to have company!

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    1. Oy. Nothing like last minute, right? This time last year I was visiting my daughter at college to hear her sing in a concert. I wasn’t preaching anywhere, so we got to go to church together and had a lot of fun.

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  4. In the past I’ve combined Palms and Passion but this Palm Sunday I want to focus on the first. I like your reflection on the stark anticlimax of “as it was already late.” How late? Late for something or late in the ministry? If it was so late, why do the overnight back in Bethany where they started and not Jerusalem? Were Jesus and “the twelve” made late by the crowds?

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    1. Those are great questions, and have been in the back of my mind since I read your comment (on my phone, where most of my Internetting has taken place the past day or two). Late in the day, late in his ministry, where is it late for us? Why that detail? Mark’s gospel is so economical in the telling, it has to mean something.

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