It was about a quarter century ago that the Church started celebrating Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday on the same day. Before that, Passion Sunday was the Fifth Sunday of Lent. This year, on the Fifth Sunday we will remember the Raising of Lazarus. Next year it’s Jesus predicting his death and the year after that it’s Mary anointing Jesus.
So, this year on Palm Sunday (April 9) we will try something different. Each part of the service will be paired with a reading (and event) associated with Holy Week. We will enter the Church with palm crosses and branches celebrating the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. We will have an Affirmation of Faith straight from Jesus’ teaching to love God and our neighbours (the Greatest Commandment). We will remember the plot to kill Jesus as we are about to confess our sins. We will remember how Jesus washed the feet of the Disciples as we offer the Peace to one another. We will recall the Last Supper as we prepare to take part in Holy Communion. We will end the service with the long reading of the Passion.
The reason for ending the service with one of the Passion readings is that not everyone comes to the Good Friday service. It is an important part of the story and ought not to be missed. So, we end the Palm Sunday service with this reading.
This year, on Good Friday (April 14) at 11:00 a.m., we will include in our Celebration of the Lord’s Passion a contemporary Tenebrae cantata, “Hope In The Shadows.” This moving choral music incorporates pieces of well-loved hymns. The narration portrays Christ’s journey through the shadows of betrayal, injustice and agony to the cross. It contrasts the selfish traits of humanity with the divine nature of a loving God. And the outcome theme is hope.