Engaging in this Worship Experience

Palm Sunday Reflection, Friday, April 8

By: Kilpy Singer

This Sunday, we sort of get a liturgical two-for-one. It’s “The Sunday of the Passion: Palm Sunday” which means we get both the joyful waving of the palms as Jesus enters Jerusalem, as well as, the solemn retelling of Jesus’ final hours and his crucifixion. Yes, this makes for a packed morning. The transition from praising Jesus with palms to seeing him nailed to the cross happens quite abruptly. However, it also makes for one of the most engaging worship experiences of the Christian year.

As Christians, we are always invited to engage our whole selves, whether we are reading Scripture, praying, worshiping, or learning. Our faith is an embodied one and provides ample opportunities to use of all our senses and ourselves. This is especially true in the Episcopal tradition with the kneeling, singing, bellringing, and incense swinging. I heard this captured well recently when someone said, “I love going to Episcopal services, but all the participation makes it hard to get in a good nap.”

Our duo of liturgies this week also captures this reality of an engaged and embodied faith. We get to engage our hands, our feet, our voices, and our emotions. Most of all, we get to use our imaginations. We wave palm fronds, process around and around, shout, and sing. We reenact the passion narrative and feel the betrayal and the sorrow. We imagine what it must have been like for Jesus, for the crowds, for Pilate, and for Peter. We can even go as far as considering what it was like for the colt who carried him, and the men crucified beside him.

I wonder what parts of this Sunday’s service will stand out for us as we engage our whole selves. Will it be a smell, or a touch, or a song, or a feeling? I wonder where our imaginations will take us as we experience the story this time around. Maybe we hear it with a new dimension? Or consider it from a different character’s perspective? Yes, it might be hard to get in a nap this morning. But in its place, may we offer all that we are so that we might enter anew into Jesus’s story and leave with a deeper knowledge and love of him.