Greetings! Hosanna!

Today the church celebrates Palm Sunday, which is the beginning of Holy Week. This is a well-known church feast, and one many people look forward to. But this year, the calendar works out so that today the church also celebrates the Feast of the Annunciation, marking the visit of the angel Gabriel to Mary, and the beginning of Jesus’ earthly life. This may be a lesser-known feast to some, but there are some parallels between Palm Sunday and Annunciation Day that make me enjoy the felicitous calendar dates this year.

  • Both days are marked by exclamations. On Palm Sunday we hear the joyful shouts of the crowd: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” On Annunciation Day, we hear a different exclamation, when the angel appears to Mary and says: “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!”
  • Both mark the start of something big. Palm Sunday begins the most somber week of the church year, the week where Jesus begins His final journey to the cross. Annunciation Day begins Jesus life on the earth with His conception. Both ultimately point to the same thing: Jesus’ triumph over sin and death, and the eternal life He won for us!
  • Both focus on Jesus as a son. On Palm Sunday, we hear the people calling for the “Son of the David”…not the direct son of the great king, but a descendant in David’s line, the one the people were hoping would ¬†come with might and majesty to rescue them and claim the throne of His ancestor. On Annunciation Day, we hear Gabriel tell Mary that she will give birth a son, who will be not only a man, but also the Son of the Most High, God in the flesh!

I’ve always felt that there’s something especially Advent-y about Palm Sunday. This year, however, we get an even bigger glimpse of Adventide even as Lent winds down, as we hear the great announcement of Gabriel to Mary. The baby king in the crude manger is the same humble king who rode into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey.

Hosanna! Gloria! Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!

More Advent in Lent

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I’ve long though that Palm Sunday has an Advent kind of feeling to it. The hymn “Prepare the Royal Highway” is a perfect example of this–an Advent hymn that works for Palm Sunday. Today’s Palm Sunday has an even more Advent-y feeling, though, due to the snowstorm we’re getting. It especially seems appropriate as today is the Eve of the Annunciation of Our Lord. Somehow, the snow seems fitting, even if it is Palm Sunday and the end of March. The white of the snow serves as a good reminder not only of Christ’s sinlessness, but also of both Christ’s incarnation and the atonement He accomplished.

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. Also known as the Sunday of the Passion, on this day, we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where He was lauded with “hosannas,” and a path was made for Him with coats and branches spread on the road. He was cheered as a king, even though He was riding on a lowly animal–a donkey. In only a few short days, the excited crowd turns to excitement of a different kind, as they call for Jesus’ death. In addition to the Palm Sunday readings, which are found in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and especially John 12, it is common for the Gospel reading to recount the full passion of Jesus, such as the one recorded in Luke 23. This reading goes from the trial before Pilate through Jesus’s death and the Sabbath rest observed by the followers of Jesus.

Hymn of the Day–Palm Sunday

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Hark! All the tribes hosanna cry.
O Savior meek, pursue Thy road,
With palms and scattered garments strowed.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
O Christ, Thy triumphs now begin
O’er captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on, ride on majesty!
The angel armies of the sky
Look down with sad and wond’ring eyes
To see the approaching sacrifice.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh.
The Father on His sapphire throne
Awaits His own anointed Son.

Ride on, ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die.
Bow Thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, Thy pow’r and reign. Lutheran Service Book #441

The Jesus Tree–Day Thirty-Eight

We got an early start on Holy Week today, with readings about Jesus’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Since there are so many events to cover in the span of Holy Week, (at least three for Maundy Thursday alone!), it makes sense that we would have to start reading about them before the Holy Week actually starts, to fit everything in. The children were a little disappointed that the palm branch symbol was placed today instead of Sunday!

The readings came from three Gospels: Matthew 21:1-16; Mark 11:1-11; and Luke 19:29-44. The Matthew reading also included the second account of Jesus clearing the Temple, and the Luke reading also told of Jesus weeping over Jerusalem. Only the Mark reading focused only on Jesus entering Jerusalem.

Advent in Lent

I know that Prepare the Royal Highway is an Advent hymn, but it works for Palm Sunday, too. As a matter of fact, when we were singing it last Advent, I kept thinking that I always considered it to be primarily a Holy Week hymn. I guess that just shows how well (or not) I pay attention to where in the hymnal the hymns actually are!

Prepare the royal highway;
The King of kings is near!
Let ev’ry hill and valley
A level road appear!
Then greet the King of Glory
Foretold in sacred story:
Hosanna to the Lord,
For He fulfills God’s Word!

God’s people see Him coming:
You own eternal king!
Palm branches strew before Him!
Spread garments! Shout and sing!
God’s promise will not fail you!
No more shall doubt assail you!
Hosanna to the Lord,
For He fulfills God’s Word!

Then fling the gates wide open
To greet your promised king!
Your king, yet ev’ry nation
Its tribute too should bring.
All lands, bow down before Him!
All nations, now adore Him!
Hosanna to the Lord,
For He fulfills God’s Word!

His is no early kingdom;
It comes from heav’n above.
His rule is peace and freedom
And justice, truth, and love.
So let your praise be sounding
For kindness so abounding.
Hosanna to the Lord,
For He fulfills God’s Word. Lutheran Service Book #343

Hymn of the Day–“Hosanna, Loud Hosanna”

Hosanna, loud hosanna,
The little children sang;
Through pillared court and temple
The lovely anthem rang.
To Jesus, who had blessed them,
Close folded to His breast,
The children sang their praises,
The simplest and the best.

From Olivet they followed,
Mid an exultant crowd,
The victor palm branch waving
And chanting clear and loud.
The Lord of earth and heaven
Rode on in lowly state
Nor scorned that little children
Should on His bidding wait.

“Hosanna in the highest!”
That ancient song we sing;
For Christ is our Redeemer,
The Lord of heav’n our King.
Oh, may we ever praise Him
With heart and life and voice
And in His blissful presence
Eternally rejoice! Lutheran Service Book #443