“Signs of Victory”

  1. Homily—Palm Sunday15

In the Name of God: Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier. Amen.

After the cold snowy winter we just endured in our region of the country, it’s nice to think of palm trees!

It’s nice to imagine palm trees swaying in a soft, warm breeze, alongside a sandy beach and the blue ocean. Palm trees make us in the Northeast think of a peaceful vacation, far away from the stresses of urban life.

Now the events that we are recalling on this Palm Sunday took place in a warm climate. But the branches that give this Sunday its name don’t remind us of lazy days at the beach!

The supporters of Jesus wave palm leaves in the air as he enters Jerusalem. They’re like banners; they cheer the arrival of a religious leader who is like a king, a leader whose spiritual authority extends to the political world. The palms herald The Kingdom of God – they identify followers of “the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

Now as we in our chilly region dream of the tropics, we might also think of the Paradise of Heaven. We might picture the joy of those who are in the presence of God. And in this season, we might anticipate the eternal life made possible to each of us by Christ’s triumph over death.

But before we contemplate the Resurrection, we must first remember the suffering and sacrifice of the last days of Jesus Christ.

So this service, which began with a joyful procession ends on a somber note: there’s no final hymn, no exchange of peace, no organ postlude.

Instead, we leave the church in silence, as the lights are turned off and we begin Holy Week and our services commemorating the Last Supper of Christ with his disciples, and Christ’s arrest, and his trial, and his execution.

Today, though, we recall the blessing that we heard at the beginning of today’s service: “Let these branches be for us signs of his victory…” We pray that they will remind us of the true identity of Jesus of Nazareth—and of the pain he suffered for us.

And we ask that the palms be signs to us of the ultimate triumph of the King of Kings.


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