This form of Palm Sunday worship is not some recent trend. It goes back to the most ancient tradition of worship in the Christian Church. In the 4th century, between 381 and 384 A.D., only fifty years after Constantine, a Spanish woman named Egeria wrote to her “sisters” at home (either other nuns or a group of Christian friends) detailing her travels through the Holy Land, and Jerusalem in particular. The “Jerusalem liturgy” that Egeria describes in her diary is the earliest surviving account we have of Holy Week worship in the area. She recounts long and elaborate liturgies for which the people gathered throughout the week, beginning with the procession with palms early in the morning on the Sunday before the resurrection. The children of Jerusalem came with their parents out to the Mount of Olives, heard the story we will hear on Sunday, and then walked, ran, or were carried into the city, waving palm branches and singing, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord,” all the way into Jerusalem and the “Anastasis,” the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where their worship would continue.
Our children will lead us this Sunday, too, as they always do, in welcoming Jesus as our “redeemer king.” After this, we will walk with Jesus through the events of Holy Week in our reading of the Passion Gospel. Following our celebration of the Holy Eucharist, we will strip the altar and the church of all its usual appointments and depart in silence, without a dismissal. Our worship is not over until we greet the risen Lord on Easter Day.
Please note the schedule for our worship this week; there will be opportunities each day for Eucharist and prayers. On Maundy Thursday, we will have noon communion and then the Maundy Thursday liturgy with washing of feet at 5:30 p.m. in the chapel. In addition to our usual Good Friday liturgy at noon in the church, our youth will lead us in The Way of the Cross in the church at 4 p.m. This moving service of readings, prayers, and hymns is a powerful way to enter the final moments of Christ’s life and to prepare for the experience of the resurrection.