Tomorrow is Palm/Passion Sunday. When I was a child it was referred to only as Palm Sunday. So why are there two names for it in contemporary times?
"Back in the day," people took Holy Week a bit more seriously. They knew there would be worship services in the days following Palm Sunday that would help them engage in remembering the Passion of Jesus Christ.
The Passion was remembering the spiritual, emotional, and physical agony endured by Jesus as he made his way to the cross and put to death. He knew what was coming and prayed fervently that if it was possible to "let this cup pass from me."
The Passion was typically remembered at Maundy Thursday and Good Friday times of worship.
But nowadays it is challenging to get people to return for two extra worship services during the week. And, besides, these two services are based on sadness, suffering, and death. Who wants to go to church only to walk out feeling bad, sinful, and sad?
Because getting to the foot of the cross is so important, and knowing many won't return to church for additional worship service, often Palm Sunday worship is divided in half: the first half, Palm Sunday; and the second half, the Passion.
The truth of the matter is, each of us played a role in the reason for the crucifixion of Jesus. Our sins caused him to be mocked, whipped, spat upon, and nailed to the cross.
But in our happy-go-lucky desire in life these days, no one wants to be reminded of that. We'd prefer to go from one happy feeling to the next. This is why most go from Palm Sunday to Easter and avoid the cross altogether.
Yes, the gift of forgiveness of sins is definitely worth celebrating. The resurrection of Jesus from the dead is the central focus of our religion. And the depth of meaning truly increases when you realize to what lengths Jesus went in order to secure our forgiveness.
Be sure to get to the foot of the cross before the great celebration of Easter. You'll be glad you did.
The Rev. Mark Broadhead is pastor at Laurel Hill Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian Church of Crestview.