Welcome + Worship + Witness

The Rector: Lock Down

Palm Sunday
05 April 2020
10.30 Morning Service

Revd Nicholas Mercer

Today is Palm Sunday- and marks the beginning of Holy Week

We normally mark this occasion in the Church calendar by waving Palm branches and imitating the crowds that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem

However, for probably the first time in our history, we have not gathered as a crowd to proclaim our Lord and Saviour

This is because we are living through a pandemic and are in “lock down”

Forming a crowd would be highly dangerous and possibly even fatal because we could transmit COVID-19 to each other

At first sight, we might appear to be as far away from Palm Sunday and Holy Week as we have ever been

However, despite this distance, there are some remarkable parallels with our extraordinary times

First of all crowds always have been lethal

The crowd that proclaimed Jesus as their Messiah two thousand years ago was the same crowd which condemned him to death just a week later

The contagion of hatred spread rapidly and by the end of the week they were chanting “crucify him”

Crowds were lethal then, just as they are lethal today

Secondly, as a result of this contagion Jesus and disciples are forced to distance themselves socially

We will hear during the course of this week that Jesus was abandoned by his disciples at Gethsemane 

His disciples then fled from his side and were “locked down” in Jerusalem

He was socially distanced from everyone who knew and loved him

Thirdly, he was forced into social isolation

Rather than defend himself, he accepted his Father’s will and awaited his fate alone

He was taken to a cross outside the city walls

And those who loved him could only watch from a distance while he died

This year, Palm Sunday and Holy Week, rather than being a remote event, seem closer than they ever been

As a nation we are all living and walking our own Holy Week 

We expect deaths to spike at the same time as the death of our Lord next week

If ever there was a reminder of his death and passion, and all that it entailed, it is this week in our nation’s history

The darkness and isolation may seem inescapable, as it did two thousand years ago

But, the majesty of Christianity is that we know how the story unfolds

Despite the utter desolation of the cross,

The grief of those who watch and weep

We know that our Lord defeats death and is raised on the Third Day

Today we ask, like our Lord, that the cup be taken from our lips

Tomorrow, we will proclaim his glorious Resurrection and that gives hope to us all