On Sunday morning, the question in our youth’s curiosity box * was “Where was Joseph when Jesus was on the cross?” It’s a timely question: last Monday was the Holy Day of Saint Joseph of Nazareth, and this past Sunday was the beginning of Passiontide, for those using the calendar in the Book of Common Prayer. Our faces are set toward Jerusalem as we draw closer to the Triduum, the Great Three Days that are at the core of how we as Church remember and make present liturgically God’s saving acts. And yet, how we keep Lent continues to change and evolve.
If you follow the calendar of the Book of Alternative Services, Holy Week begins this coming Sunday, with the awkwardly titled “The Sunday of the Passion with the Liturgy of the Palms.” The old calendar has the odd season of Passiontide, and in many parishes crosses and other symbols will be veiled in red or purple fabrics. And while Passiontide may be less often observed these days (save in England and some other parts of the Anglican Communion), its memory asks us to think about how we mark transitions.
Lent which began with ashes has been reminding us of God’s actions with stories about the covenants God has made with our ancestors in the faith, and reminds us of God’s steadfast presence and love in all the moments of our journey.
In some places, Sunday will only be about the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, with reference to the Passion left for Good Friday alone. In other places, the Passion is the point of the day. In some the gospel will be read, and in others it will be enacted; in some communities, there’ll be palms near the altar instead of flowers, and in others the palms will be shared and strewn. For some, a simple palm cross marks the day, and in others wee tykes will play at sword-fighting with the fronds until their parents redirect them.
Will this coming week burst upon your community with palms and processions, or have you been finding a way to build throughout the season to the excitement of Holy Week? How have you laid the groundwork for Holy Week to be the climax of the year? What does Lent’s evolution look like for you? And what does the Sunday of the Passion with the Liturgy of the Palms look like where you worship? Join the conversation in the forum!
* Our youth ministry coordinator solicits all manner of questions about anything, and they go in the box. The clergy only get to see the questions when we attempt to respond to one after it’s randomly pulled from the box. Such is our children’s focus, in my context.