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Palm Sunday and Pussy Willow

Offered at the 8am Palm Sunday Eucharist at St Andrew's, Bishopstone - the first Eucharist held in this Benefice since Christmas


One of the things I have enjoyed watching, as it emerges out of the depths of winter and into the first flushes of spring, has been the slow and gradual growth of the Pussy Willow in the hedgerows. There’s a steady pace by which the Catkins grow and it must be said that there are plenty of them around these parts.


Before Palms were introduced to Europe, the Pussy Willow used to be, and still is, used as a substitute for the processions on Palm Sunday. Some churches, especially in Eastern Europe still bless bunches of Pussy Willow as well as the palms as part of their celebrations to welcome Christ’s entry into Jerusalem.

This morning is the first attended Eucharist in this Benefice of this year. It has been a long first quarter of the year and I know that the yearning for many, for the sacrament, has been terribly difficult. How incredible then, that as we gather here welcoming the return of Christ’s presence into the walls of our hearts, on the same day that we remember the people with palms welcomed the entrance of Christ into Jerusalem. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest. How this story maps on to our own today is a rather good pointer towards the mystery of Holy Week. As we begin this journey into Holy Week, and walk through Christ’s Passion mindful of the devastating months we have endured and witnessed; as we witness his glorious victory over death mindful of our current hopes and longings; we are again invited to find our story in his. The Pussy Willow provides a rather good metaphor for this process of being grafted into the Christian drama. How a detail becomes contextualised, reinterpreted into something familiar and something local. Because though these events took place miles and miles away, years and years ago, they are also local to here and relevant to now. Palms may become pussy willow, temple gates become church doors, and the crowds and disciples become you and I.

As we prepare to receive the Body of Christ once more today, let us line his way into our hearts with palms and all the hosannas we can muster, preparing to walk with him into that Last Supper, and that Good Friday … and then into that Easter Victory … which is of course, the very reason we even have this house of prayer, and the very reason we are able to receive his presence in this bread.


Amen


The Rev'd Arwen Folkes, Rector of St Andrew's and St Peter's.

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