Posted by on Mar 28, 2010 in Reflections | 3 comments


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 Prayer at the Blessing of the Branches

O Lord our God, Who sits upon the Cherubim, You have reaffirmed Your power by sending Your Only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, to save the world through His cross, burial and resurrection. When He came into Jerusalem to suffer His voluntary passion, the people that sat in darkness and in the shadow of death took boughs of trees and branches of palms as signs of victory, thus foretelling His Resurrection. Do You, Yourself, O Master, keep and preserve us who, in imitation of them, carry palms and branches in our hands. As we join the crowds and the children who sang Hosanna to You, may we, with hymns and spiritual songs, attain the life-giving resurrection of the third day.

This morning's Liturgy was joyful. The choir broke out the fancy versions of the Cherubic Hymn, the Lord's Prayer and Blessed be the Name of the Lord (they gave me chills). I was entranced by it, by the Gospel reading, the Epistle reading, the troparion. Together, with palm branches in our hands, we began immersing ourselves in Christ's Passion.  As a community, we'll now turn our attention away from temporal concerns and focus wholly on the eternal Reality of death and hades being crushed by the Cross and empty tomb – by LOVE. We'll spend literally hours in Church this week; I'll forget what day it is, what time it is as the services flow from one into the other. How can I put into words the power of this experience, how both demanding and fulfilling it is to stretch ourselves via fasting and prayer and the attendance of these many amazing services in order that we might stay awake with Jesus in the Garden of Gesthsemane, that we might carry His heavy cross on our shoulders, that we might weep with the Theotokos and apostles at His crucification, and then, having tasted (just a sip) of His hunger, pain and exhaustion, to marvel at and be utterly, profoundly, renewed and enlivened by His Resurrection?   

Palm Sunday summons us to behold our king – the Suffering Servant. We cannot understand Jesus' kingship apart from the Passion. Filled with infinite love for the Father and the Holy Spirit, and for creation, in His inexpressible humility Jesus accepted the infinite abasement of the Cross. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows; He was wounded for our transgressions and made Himself an offering for sin (Isaiah 53). His glorification, which was accomplished by the resurrection and the ascension, was achieved through the Cross. In the fleeting moments of exuberance that marked Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the world received its King, the king who was on His way to death. His Passion, however, was no morbid desire for martyrdom. Jesus' purpose was to accomplish the mission for which the Father sent Him. (

“Hosanna! Blessed is he that comes in the Name of the Lord!”