I've always hated the Palm Sunday service. From the cheerful romping round the Sunday School of my Presbyterian childhood, the rather less cheerful staggering round the lumpy graveyard of my present church when my children were small (the horrors of singing "All Glory, Laud and Honour" unaccompanied and finding how flat we'd gone when we got back into church) - all that left me cold, because of what was to come.
Over-reaction? Perhaps. But today I found these bitter-sweet elements satisfactorily represented in what I think I can characterise as a thoroughly adult service. The children we had in our last incumbency, along with their attendant parents, have been pretty invisible during the interregnum, so you could say that the adult feeling was unavoidable, but that's not the point.
It was good to be reminded why our palms come in the shape of a cross. It was good to have the long reading of the Passion dramatised as opposed to shared out willy-nilly among a group of readers in the manner of a relay race. There was a seriousness of intention that seemed utterly appropriate. And there was the satisfaction of knowing that this was the last lap for a lay team working collaboratively to create an experience rather than just get the job done.
And a last, private thought (private, that is, till now). Crowds are so unreliable, so fickle. It seems utterly appropriate to be reminded of that just now. Some things don't change.