Holy Week is almost upon us. Churches are ordering palm branches and volunteers are preparing to present a dramatized reading of the Passion narrative, as we journey with Jesus to Jerusalem and to the cross.
Rev. Fleming Rutledge’s The Undoing of Death is a collection of sermons for Holy Week. It includes four sermons specifically on Palm Sunday: The Tears of Palm Sunday (1998), The New World Order (1991), Lead us to Calvary (2001), A Procession of Fools.
“Of all the days in the Christian year, this is certainly the most disconcerting. Even the most seasoned churchgoers tend to forget, each year, exactly what we are in for when we come to church for this occassion. We start out in a gala mood; Palm Sunday has always been a crowd-pleaser. The festivity of the triumphal procession, the stirring music, the palm branches, the repeated hosannas all suggest a general air of celebration. It comes as a shock to us, year after year, to find ourselves abruptly plunged into the solemn, overwhelmingly long dramatic reading of the Passion narrative. It’s a tough Sunday. It begins in triumph and ends in catastrophe. We come in prepared for a party, and we leave as if we were going to a funeral. We come in joyful and we go out stricken. All in all, it is a most perplexing day — and for those who are unprepared, it can be downright threatening.” ("The New World Order" in The Undoing of Death)