Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week and one of only three Christian calendar holidays I was taught about as a little Southern Baptist back in the 1990s.
I'm going to do something a wee bit different and look forward into the week for my main topic.
Welcome to Brothers and Sisters, the weekly meetup for prayer* and community at Daily Kos. We put an asterisk on pray* to acknowledge that not everyone uses conventional religious language, but may want to share joys and concerns, or simply take solace in a meditative atmosphere. Anyone who comes in the spirit of mutual respect, warmth and healing is welcome.Given the occasion and my own religious affiliation, this week's diary will be Christian-centric, but all are welcome here.
Palm Sunday was once my first-ever time attending a church where Good Friday was paid any attention. At all. And because it was known a number of people in the church weren't going to make the Friday service, some aspects of it were rolled into Palm Sunday. And this was a Catholic church, so that meant Audience Participation Passion Play.
It was rather shocking to me. I was used to one happy singing Sunday and then the next being more of the same but with chocolate. We mentioned Holy Week a little in Sunday School on Palm Sunday when I was very small, but the presence of the crucifixion in the season was mainly limited to a wood cross covered in chicken wire on the church lawn that was covered in flowers by the kids on Easter morning.
Even mentioning that yes, there is a dark side to the Christian calendar felt odd. Which matched the fact that the church of my childhood also liked to ignore the fact there is a dark side to life at all. "Yes, bad things happen and God can use them for good purposes, but saying 'ow' and 'why' is acceptable anyway" would have been an unthinkable statement there. We were taught that Jesus calling out "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" was evidence God had actually abandoned him (making penal substitutionary the only atonement theology we were allowed to consider) and not a quote from a psalm or a valid human response to anything.
Last year was my first time attending a Good Friday service. This year will, unless something prevents it, be the second. Reading Psalm 22 responsively last year did something to me, and it's going to be interesting to see if the same thing happens again this year.
I've gone from church life where emotional pain couldn't be acknowledged beyond a little grief for an acceptable length of time to church life where everyone's expected to read this psalm responsively and it's actually okay to mean the first half of it.
Since this is Holy Week and there is a tradition of music embeds, let it be known that the 2000 film of Jesus Christ Superstar by the Really Useful Group is up on youtube legally. The link and embed are to the playlist with the whole show, beginning with the opening credits. This is the same version as the above Hosanna clip, so if you liked that, here's the rest of it. There are also some interesting production videos after the film finishes.In other tangentially-related topics, tomorrow night will have a not exactly common Passover lunar eclipse. They aren't technically uncommon either - Passover is a full moon holiday, so each year there's a chance everything will line up for a partial or full lunar eclipse. They've certainly happened before, and there's textual evidence that there may have been one the year Jesus died (and one of the most likely years did have a lunar eclipse on Passover that would have been just finishing up when the moon rose in Jerusalem. This one is going to hit in the wee hours of the morning in the Eastern timezone, but from what I've heard it should be visible nearly everywhere in the USA.
Please be aware that since this IS a Passion Play where Judas plays a major role, yes the crucifixion is shown and yes there is suicidal imagery. The lead-ins to both are fairly well marked, so they should be avoidable for anyone unfamiliar with the musical who wants to watch the beginning and avoid the potentially triggering parts.
There's the usual amount of fundamentalist 'Oh no, the Rapture must be coming!' fear-mongering about this one. Which means it most certainly isn't coming since Jesus said he wouldn't be that obvious beforehand. But it has a good chance of being very pretty so if you find yourself awake late enough tomorrow go outside and look up.