I wonder what you do with your palm crosses each year? In the church, traditionally, they are kept until the following Lent when they are burned to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. Small children open them out to make swords, some people use them as book marks and I knew one lady who kept a large vase filled with them and added to a year at a time. They remind us of how quickly the “Glory, Hallelujahs” turned to “Crucify him”. They can perhaps also remind us of how much that is a part of human nature. How often have we seen an England football team go out to play in the world cup with opinion pieces on a particular player in all the papers. Such and such a one will change our luck and we will win the cup they trumpet. Then a penalty is missed, an over-zealous tackle is punished and suddenly we are told that the previously lauded player is actually a terrible person. No-one has anything good to say about them and they are pilloried in newspapers of all political persuasions. All too quickly it seems, we are ready to turn and rend our heroes of yesterday.
It is not unusual for people to acclaim and then destroy, particularly if the acclaimed one does not perform in the way they want. It is rare for people to die for someone else. In his letter to the Romans, Paul says this: “Very rarely will someone die for a righteous person, though for a good person, someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
As we journey through this last week before the death and resurrection of Good Friday and Easter Sunday, it is tempting to leap ahead. We are surrounded by shops wanting us to grab the hot cross buns, simnel cakes and chocolate eggs right now and then use Easter itself as an excuse to go back for seconds. But if we succumb to that temptation, we are making the mistake of jumping from Palm Sunday and it’s “Hosannah to the Son of David” straight to Easter Sunday. And without the pain of the crowd turning, of Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, of Pilate’s handwashing, and the soldier’s whipping and the nails driving into flesh and bone and wood; without the washing of feet and the injunction to “love one another as I have loved you”; without the last supper and the requirement to “do this as often as you eat it in remembrance of me” then Easter Sunday is trivialised. Yes, we are an Easter people, but it is our recognition of what came before that makes the celebration all that it is.