Palm Sunday

Through people contacting me, asking for an explanation of the entry in our lectionary booklet for Palm Sunday, I am becoming aware that there are communities that celebrate Palm Sunday without reading the Passion story. These, hence, struggle to make sense of the lectionary entry which does not provide a set of readings that just concludes with the entry-into-Jerusalem-carrying-palms Gospel reading.

Palm Sunday Readings

The issue is expressed well by Ven. Dr. Peter Carrell:

Personally I am finding the readings and instructions set out in NZL 2014 unhelpful. For instance they imply that if I wanted to focus on Palm Sunday but didn’t actually have a palm procession then I should not have the Matthew Palm Sunday reading, Matthew 21:1-11.

Nevertheless I recognise that in our church (in my experience and according to my knowledge) there are broadly two traditions or customs followed.

1. Today is Palm Sunday and the readings focus on that with the Gospel reading being the story of Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem from the gospel of the year.

2. Today is the Sunday in which we celebrate both the Liturgy of the Palms and the Liturgy of the Passion. Thus the gospel story of entry to Jerusalem is told near the beginning of the service, in conjunction with a procession of palms, but the gospel readings in the normal place for readings to occur concern the passion or suffering of our Lord.

I am offering comment on readings for a liturgy which solely focuses on Palm Sunday….

It would be helpful to have some idea how widespread these practices are. So please click your answer on this poll:


THANKS for clicking on that poll.

Personally, omitting the Passion reading at the regular Sunday parish Eucharist this coming Sunday would not have entered my head. For me Palm Sunday = Passion Sunday. [I am informed, from different sources, of places that pride themselves as leaders in liturgy, that announced last Sunday as “Passion Sunday”, followed by no particular reference to the Passion in hymns, readings, prayers, sermon, etc. still occurs. That I, along with the majority current Western tradition refer to this coming Sunday, when we read the Passion, as “Passion Sunday”, some regard as pedantic 🙂 ]

Here is my version of the Palm Sunday rite, drawn from Celebrating Eucharist.

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