If you have been here for Palm Sunday in the past, you know that one of my favorite things to preach on is the tension of this season. On the one hand, you have this exciting and joyous entry into Jerusalem, on the other, you know what is to come in the week ahead.
There is also a tension that must be addressed in the life of the church in this season. On the one hand, it is important to really live into the joy of the Palm parade. On the other hand, many folks have a hard time making it to a midweek service for Maundy Thursday (6pm), and so the one opportunity that some people have to experience the darkest moments of the week is Palm/Passion Sunday. That means this Sunday is filled with an amazing complexity of emotions—the high and the low, the light and the dark, the joy and the pain. This Sunday is a Sunday of tension.
I would wager a guess that most of us know this kind of tension in our life. The joy of a child’s graduation, alongside the sadness as they set off for a new chapter of life. The excitement of a new job that has accompanied the loss that came with the departure of an old one. The death of a loved one that means our life will never be the same, alongside the knowledge that they have now entered the joy which God has prepared for them.
Our lives are constantly filled with complex emotional tension, which is why this Sunday is so important. We recognize within our religious life cycle the complexities of living fully. We find our joy and sorrow coming hand in hand. This also is a reminder to us that when we find ourselves in the midst of difficult straights, nothing ever lasts, and joy will be close on the heels of the struggles we confront.
We never want to come to the dark moments of life, but somehow, these tensions between these emotional cycles add a richness and a fullness to living.
So on Sunday, I encourage you to pay attention to the emotional swings. Let yourself be swept up in the joy of the waving palms and the children’s shouts. Also, be ready to contemplate the coming darkness. All of it is a part of our journey.