Friday, April 11, 2014

Palm Sunday

I've determined what I want to do for Holy Week. Rather than providing reflections, I want to share a few items that I feel are meditative. Reason being is because the reflections I write, while I love to write them, require a lot of energy and they take me a couple of days to generate. Holy Week doesn't afford much time at all for that kind of lengthy reflection; each turn in the story just keep coming on the heels of the one before. But, in the meantime, there are images that stick with me from year to year. And those are the things that I want to share.

So let's start, shall we? I know that I just shared this clip from the 1973 Jesus Christ Superstar in my last blog post, but it's directly pertinent today, so I share it again:



Some thoughts I have on this one:

The guys at Pulpit Fiction pointed out this week, among other things, that the term "hosanna" means "save us." I was struck by this because I've always been fascinated with the way this song plays with that word. So now I hear the crowd singing so energetically "Save us, Jesus Christ!"and there is such a juxtaposition there, that they're happy and excited for this person who is portrayed so humanly.

And that's the other thing I'll offer: the expression on Jesus's face is so telling as the crowd sings through the verses. The start in the song with "Hey J.C., J.C.! Won't you smile at me..." and then they go to "you're alright by me" and it really does seem like these poor and oppressed have finally got a leader who pays attention to them. And then the next time they sing that line, they say "Hey J.C., J.C.! Won't you DIE for me?" and the camera stops on the actor's face. The image in that split second is one of a Jesus who knows he is going to die for all these people and he doesn't even know whether they understand what they're asking of him. I know a lot of people who don't like Jesus Christ Superstar for this exact reason; that it portrays such a human Jesus. But I like it. It emphasizes for me that Jesus was a real person, not just some deity that co-mingled with its worshippers about 2,000 years ago.

This Palm Sunday, I'll be thinking of this image as the whole congregation participates in the Passion. We'll be the ones that both praise Jesus and condemn him.

I want to ask you to think of something this week at church, too. What are your meditations on Palm Sunday? Does this video make sense with your experience? Or is your experience far and away from it? If you want to share your thoughts in the comments, I would love to read them.