Tag Archives: Holy Week

When the cheering stopped …… a thought for Palm/Passion Sunday

Some years ago a book was written by Gene Smith, a noted American historian. The title was “When The Cheering Stopped.” It was the story of President Woodrow Wilson and the events leading up to and following WWI. When that war was over Wilson was an international hero. There was a great spirit of optimism abroad, and people actually believed that the last war had been fought and the world had been made safe for democracy.

On his first visit to Paris after the war Wilson was greeted by cheering mobs. He was actually more popular than their own heroes. The same thing was true in England and Italy. In a Vienna hospital a Red Cross worker had to tell the children that there would be no Christmas presents because of the war and the hard times. The children didn’t believe her. They said that President Wilson was coming and they knew that everything would be all right.

The cheering lasted about a year. Then it gradually began to stop. It turned out that the political leaders in Europe were more concerned with their own agendas than they were a lasting peace. At home, Woodrow Wilson ran into opposition in the United States Senate and his League of Nations was not ratified. Under the strain of it all the President’s health began to break. In the next election his party was defeated. So it was that Woodrow Wilson, a man who barely a year or two earlier had been heralded as the new world Messiah, came to the end of his days a broken and defeated man.

It’s a sad story, but one that is not altogether unfamiliar. The ultimate reward for someone who tries to translate ideals into reality is apt to be frustration and defeat. 

When Jesus came to Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday, the crowds went wild.  Cheering “Hosanna!”, they greeted their “King and Saviour”

And then the acclamation turned to condemnation and cries for his blood.  “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”

And he was broken on the Cross.

Just another false Messiah.  Just another phoney prophet.  What a let down.  What frustration.  What hopes, dashed at Calvary. Defeated, dead then buried and forgotten……..

And then… and then…. the cry:

HE IS RISEN!  And with joy, our response:  HE IS RISEN INDEED!


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The Parish Organist

The Parish Organist

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April 11, 2014 · 12:40

Bad Days by Boris Pasternak

Bad Days

When Passion week started and Jesus 
Came down to the city, that day 
Hosannahs burst out at his entry 
And palm leaves were strewn in his way. 

But days grow more stern and more stormy. 
No love can men’s hardness unbend; 
Their brows are contemptuously frowning, 
And now comes the postscript, the end. 

Grey, leaden and heavy, the heavens 
Were pressing on treetops and roofs. 
The Pharisees, fawning like foxes, 
Were secretly searching for proofs. 

The lords of the Temple let scoundrels 
Pass judgement, and those who at first 
Had fervently followed and hailed him, 
Now all just as zealously cursed. 

The crowd on the neighbouring sector 
Was looking inside through the gate. 
They jostled, intent on the outcome, 
Bewildered and willing to wait. 

And whispers and rumours were creeping, 
Repeating the dominant theme. 
The flight into Egypt, his childhood 
Already seemed faint as a dream. 

And Jesus remembered the desert, 
The days in the wilderness spent, 
The tempting with power by Satan, 
That lofty, majestic descent. 

He thought of the wedding at Cana, 
The feast and the miracles; and 
How once he had walked on the waters 
Through mist to a boat, as on land; 

The beggarly crowd in a hovel, 
The cellar to which he was led; 
How, started, the candle-flame guttered, 
When Lazarus rose from the dead…

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There is a village in Northern Italy named Domodossola where there is a model Calvary –  representing the scenes of Holy Week and what happened to Jesus during those last momentous days of his life on earth.

There is a hillside at this place, and from the bottom of the hill upwards there is a series of small chapels or shrines each depicting with life-size terracotta figures, one of the scenes of Jesus’ passion.

Visitors can look at a scene showing Jesus before Pilate…Jesus carrying his cross…and so on.

Eventually, visitors reach a chapel that shows Jesus hanging from the cross.

Now, up to this point, the path running between the shrines is well worn by the feet of countless pilgrims coming to look at Jesus’ suffering and death.

But then the path becomes overgrown with grass – it’s clear that it’s little used.

If, however, people were to continue to the summit of the hill, there is another shrine: The Chapel of the Resurrection.

Sadly, very few people take the trouble to visit it.  They stop short at the place where the crucifixion is depicted.

Those who built this model Calvary had not forgotten that Jesus rose from the tomb – but most of those who come to Domodossola to pay homage to Jesus, seem to miss out this most wonderful of all miracles.


D.H. Lawrence wrote this:

“The churches loudly assert: we preach Christ crucified!

But in doing so, they preach only half of the passion, and do only half their duty.

The creed says: ‘He was crucified, died, and was buried…the third day he rose again from the dead’.

And again ‘I believe in the resurrection of the body,’ so that to preach Christ crucified is to preach half the truth.

 It is the business of the Church to preach Christ born among men which is Christmas, Christ crucified which is Good Friday, and Christ risen which is Easter.

And after Easter, till November and All Saints, and till Annunciation, the year belongs to the risen Lord: that is all the full flowering summer and the autumn of wheat and fruit.  All belong to Christ risen.

 But the churches insist on Christ crucified and rob us of the blossom and fruit of the year.

 The resurrection is to LIFE, not to death.  Can I not then walk this earth in gladness being risen from sorrow?  Is the flesh that was crucified become as poison to the crowds in the street, or is it a strong blossoming out of the earth’s humus?”



Dali's Christ of St John on the cross

Dali’s Christ of St.John of the Cross

The painting is known as the “Christ of Saint John of the Cross”, because its design is based on a drawing by the 16th century Spanish friar Saint John of the Cross. The composition of Christ is also based on a triangle and circle (the triangle is formed by Christ’s arms; the circle is formed by Christ’s head). The triangle, since it has three sides, can be seen as a reference to the Trinity, and the circle may be an allusion to Platonic thought. The circle represents Unity: all things do exist in the ‘three’ but in the four, merry they be (Wikipedia)


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