Daily Devotions for Holy Week
entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple.
Today in Jerusalem, and all around the world, many Christians observe Palm Sunday, the day that commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into that holy city. Riding on a donkey, he was greeted by ecstatic crowds who waved palm branches in celebration. (Hence the name for this Sunday.) In a matter of days, shouts of victory (“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”) gave way to betrayals. With dizzying rapidity, Jesus went from being celebrated to being crucified.
Palm Sunday is the first day of Holy Week, a week in which Christian tradition marks the last week of Jesus’ earthly life. It is a week in which we retell and remember a biblical account fraught with violence and tension, political intrigue and incredible cruelty.
Holy Week invites us to know the narrative of these final days experientially. In many churches, Palm Sunday is enacted in some way—the pastor or priest rides on a donkey; the Palm Sunday gospel is read in parts, with the congregation taking the part of the malevolent crowd, shouting at the end, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”
It is a week marked by the darkest shadows, the insanity of political machination, the tenderness of a communal meal and the way of the cross. It is also a week filled with hope, a week that culminates in the mystery of an empty tomb. It is a week in which we know anew that God always, mysteriously brings forth life out of death.
By Easter morning, if you have walked through the events portrayed by Holy Week, you will have intimations of hope—real hope. This hope springs from the valley of the shadow of death, from the vast gap where we cannot bring forth anything new of our own power and volition. The hope is known in the frontier of suffering and death, where we least expect it.
Enter the week, enter the story. And listen with your deepest self as the events of the week unfold.
During this Holy Week, may I walk with Christ as he has walked with me. Amen.