Earlier today, as Christians met for Palm Sunday worship, there were 2 bomb attacks on Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria and Tanta in Egypt with many killed and injured.
Even as Christians around the world were singing Hosanna, murderous intentions were carried out. 'In the midst of life we are in death' - it was ever thus. Lord, have mercy.
In what Christians remember today, the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem that began the last week of his life, we see themes of praise, life and joy intertwined with murderous plots.
The painting at the head of this post depicts Christ's entry into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, surrounded by those who cheered waving palm branches. Others are perhaps just looking on, not sure what to make of it all. It was painted by the German artist Wilhelm Morgner, who died on Flanders fields during World War 1.
For me the painting expresses both peaceful procession and the passion and suffering of Christ. The rich colours speak of royal triumph, but the darkness seems to be closing in and there is more than a hint of the coming passion. The Christ figure seems already pierced. The other figures are ambiguous. Are they there to cheer, to observe, to plot or to crush?
Fr. Simon Rundell has produced a short meditation for 'Holy Ground' Palm Sunday, Exeter Cathedral. It has a Creative Commons License so I share it here. It uses the imagined thoughts at the end of the day one of Jesus' disciples who made that journey into Jerusalem with Jesus. I recommend taking 2 minutes to watch it.
Image Credit: Vanderbilt Divinity Library, CC License