Palm Sunday at Girton – and a refurbished frontal

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I celebrated Palm Sunday this morning at the picturesque parish church of Girton where the Revd Mandy Maxwell is growing the congregation as young families return to the fold. (Having a young family herself may be the “secret weapon” here …).

Needleworkers in the congregation have been doing a wonderfully skilled restoration of the white and golf festal frontal for the altar and I was asked to rededicate it just in time for Easter (easy with the holy water there, Bishop).

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As well as movingly performed dramatic reading of the Passion I was asked to preach on What it means to be a people who follow Jesus on the way to Jerusalem.

“Jerusalem” in the Bible and its interpretative tradition is more than just a Jewish city: it stands for all Israel, the church, the soul, and God’s new creation. So as Jesus goes to Jerusalem he is inaugurating the kingdom of God – his words for the new Israel and new Creation – and inviting us to walk with him towards it, as individual souls/disciples and as the church.

When we do that a ripple effect starts which I see as God’s plan for the coming of kingdom, for how the Lord’s Prayer comes true

  • It starts in each human heart and soul:  the Palm Sunday story begins with just 2 disciples in the company of Christ hearing and following his word. Their relationship starts to deepen. What sort of prayer, listening for his word, will mark our keeping of Holy Week?
  • It grows to form community in a new way A whole multitude of the disciples end up joining in the shouts of praise: a growing body of Christ marked by the character of Christ. What sort of worship will we offer a church at Easter? How can it speak of joy, peace and glory, be a blessing, in the same way as the shouts of praise did as Jesus entered Jerusalem?
  • It spreads to give new life to all creation The stones would have joined in if necessary: and if even they can find their voice; how much more must we let our stony hearts show the compassion of Christ, and engage with the world around us in love so that needs are met and other hearts melted too?

    What might that mean in practice? Who else is on the move, making an exodus, going through the waters this Easter, in need of new life?… How can we engage with the refugee crisis and other need of world, as we leave church at Easter and start to live out the resurrection in the days which follow, praying to be the generous and visible people of Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord. That compassion will be the touchstone of how far we have grown in the character and deepened in the company of Christ.