Thoughts on Palm Sunday 2020

‘Unsettled’…’confusing’ … ‘strange’.  All words we’ve heard to describe these weeks of COVID-19.  Yet, there begins to be talk of the possibility of the pandemic having perhaps peaked here in Cyprus; rumours of hope; glimmers of light in the darkness.

This morning felt a little strange, as I received greetings from friends elsewhere celebrating Easter Day, in line with the western calendar. For this year, in solidarity with the Orthodox Church in Cyprus, we celebrate Easter next week, and so Palm Sunday today.

 Today, about the time that Easter dawn services were taking place online in the UK, Christopher and I said Morning Prayer for Palm Sunday. We prayed in bright sunshine.  The veranda door was open and I became aware of three things: the quiet of stilled traffic; the sound of birdsong; and the lovely chanting of the Orthodox priest from our village church.  It felt good to be in prayer together on Palm Sunday.

 9.30am approached and we sat together to watch our pre-recorded Palm Sunday service  – another strange experience, particularly as there was no sound initially!  But the hitch did give us an opportunity to enjoy Zoom coffee and conversation both before and after the service!  And I’m so grateful for the technology and for Richard’s expertise, which enabled us to worship and to come together as a community in these strange times.  Opportunities for love shown and love shared; glimmers of light in the darkness.

 Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, when we journey with Christ ever closer to the cross.  It’s that week when Jesus did things that were so very extraordinary – that seemed so strange and unsettling to his friends.  The week he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey; overturns the moneylenders’ tables in the temple; eats with the wrong kind of people yet again; allows a woman to anoint his feet with oil; washes his disciples’ feet; dries them with a towel; prays with passion in the garden; and permits himself to be arrested.  Strange and unsettling times indeed.

 As we share in the strange events of this week with Jesus and his disciples we will find, amid suffering, that there is love shown and love shared.  There are glimmers of light in the darkness.   For we journey through the confusions of this week as Easter people, in the certain knowledge of the resurrection that is to come.