Saturday, April 16, 2011

Palm Sunday vs Passion Sunday

It's the time of year for my annual lectionary rant. There are very few events in the New Testament that we can place chronologically. Outside of Holy Week and Pentecost, I can't think of any off-hand. We know that Jesus entered Jerusalem on a Sunday around Passover. We know he was crucified on Friday and that he rose the next Sunday. Yet the lectionary conflates Palm Sunday with Good Friday. I hate that.

The entry into Jerusalem is prophetic, glorious, and inspiring. It is usually relegated to a short march around the church waving palms and saying "Hosannas." Then the congregation enters to All Glory Laud and Honor and that's the end of it. From then on out it's about the events of Good Friday.

Then Good Friday service comes around and the readings are about . . . Good Friday. Yet we just heard this in its entirety on Sunday. Why the redundancy?

The only reason I can think of is that the expert developers of the lectionary were aware that Good Friday services were sparsely populated. Hearing the Passion is certainly important. So they made sure to put it on Palm Sunday so more people would hear it. This is a cop-out of an excuse. Admittedly, I haven't seen an official excuse offered.

It's time we returned the readings to their chronologically appointed days. Palm Sunday is for Hosannas and Blessed is He's. Good Friday is for the Passion. On top of this, everyone should be involved in a movement to get people to church on Good Friday (that is -- people who are church goers). Good Friday services are rightly solemn, but many times unnecessarily boring. Let's keep the solemn but work on the boring. Perhaps even a reintroduction of the Stations of the Cross (egads! But the Reformation!?)?

Here are some other blogs that pick up the topic -- and probably do a better job of it:

Rev Out Loud
Unlikely Conversation: A Lectionary Blog
Old Worship New