The debate that church pastors have this time of the year is this – Do we focus on Palm Sunday and the triumphant entry into Jerusalem, or do we focus on the Passion of Jesus? This is an important debate – and one that doesn’t have a clear and easy right answer. There are good answers for going either way.
The case for the focus on the full Passion (the trial, suffering, and crucifixion of Jesus) is that many people won’t attend worship services throughout Holy Week, so it is better to focus on the full passion, rather than only give part of the story and have people confused when they show up for Easter. There are more subtle arguments, but this is the essence of this argument.
The case for the focus to only be on the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem is that it’s up to each person to decide how important it is to come to worship during Holy Week to get the full experience of the significance of Holy Week. Again, there are more subtle arguments, but this is the essence of this argument.
If you wanted to really sum this up, the question would be – who is responsible for getting the story of Jesus’ final week to people? The pastor/church or the worshipers? I fall firmly on the side of focusing on the triumphant entry of Jesus for Palm Sunday and making the other worship services available for people – if they show up, that’s up to them. The story will be told over the course of the week. I know that schedules can be difficult for people, but if it’s important, time can be made for the thing that is important. My kid’s soccer coach changed practice time and added an extra 45 minutes onto practice and didn’t apologize for changing it. Guess what – people changed their schedules. It must have been important enough.
What is important in life? Many are willing to change their schedules for sports and work – based on what the coach or the boss demand.
What is important in your faith and for your faith? Are you willing to change your schedule for what God wants? And that goes beyond church services. What if God called on you to change careers? What if God called on you to do something uncomfortable? What if God called on you to be inconvenienced? Being a follower of Jesus has a tendency to be uncomfortable and inconvenient. It reminds us that we are not in control.