"I am the vine; you are the branches." — John 15:5

Sunday, April 5, 2020 – Palm and Passion Sunday

“Heart and Soul”

During my early university years, getting to church on Sunday involved two buses and a long walk uphill, both ways.  Being in a cosmopolitan city, the people on those crowded buses formed a veritable United Nations, multicultural, multilingual and representing a variety of religious convictions.  But on Palm Sunday, on the trip back to the ‘student ghetto’, I became delightfully aware that many on board held a palm branch or cross in their hands.  We smiled at one another. Denominations aside, there we were, one in the Body of Christ.  

Photo: Our Palm Sunday Cross at St. Helen’s  Credit: Deb McIntyre

In these strange days, while we strive to hold to the strictest physical distancing we can manage, we know that we are not permitted to join in proximity for worship. Nor will there be palms branches to wave or craft into crosses, at least in this part of the world. Many of us, however, have been reminded during these weeks that the church is a Body, not a place, not a building, not even a particular expression of faith.  And not only do we gather spiritually with our own Christian family of St. Helen’s today, we are joining with Christians of all persuasions, world-wide,  on the Holy Week journey.  What begins triumphantly this day, with Jesus entering Jerusalem, continues through the week with poignant stories of Jesus interacting with others.  It then careens through scenes marked by hostile voices, calling for crucifixion, and graphic violence. It ends in silence, within the cold tomb, its door sealed shut with a great stone. 

But even there in the darkness, in our darkness, and fears about this pandemic, in our anxiety, loneliness, grief and frustration, there is an echo, a whisper, a fragment of wind-tossed melody,  that reminds us that our Resurrected Lord is with us already and always.

I invite you to join with us on our website each day as we observe a very different Holy Week this year. Liturgies, resources and “Heart and Soul” will be available for your use. There are also hundreds of churches and cathedrals from all denominations (including our own), offering fireside chats, contemplative meditations, ‘what to do’ suggestions, zoom musical endeavours and worship services. You might want to ‘visit’ them as well.