The Fickle Crowd

It’s Palm Sunday, the start of the Christian Holy Week. Whilst, if I have to label my religious affiliation, I’ll usual say ‘spiritual’ and explain that I value the deep experiences available from many faiths, here in Bristol I’ve been welcomed by and appreciate the community of my local church: St. Paul’s in Clifton.

Today our service included a procession from one church in the benefice (parishes that share a priest) to another. Chanting Taizé songs we, a goodly congregation, progressed: stopping at traffic lights and struggling to hear our song above some workmen digging up the street.

Later we participated in a reading of the Easter story. How, on the original Palm Sunday, Jesus was greeted by adoring crowds, as he entered Jerusalem in triumph. It was a glorious moment when, not only his loyal followers, but the general population recognised Jesus as a savior and wanted to applaud and honour him.

By the following Friday the same crowd was baying for Jesus to be crucified.

What happened?

A palm cross
A palm cross

This was the first time I’d really appreciated the role of the masses in the Easter story. Pontius Pilot wanted to release him, even Herod was happy for him to go free. It was the crowd, the fickle crowd, that sent him to his death.


Why did the drivers of some vehicles seeing an orderly procession through the streets of Bristol insist on their right of way, rather than allowing us to cross the road in front of them?

As an individual we can choose to be open to unusual things happening before us and to embrace them . . . or we can cling to that with which we are familiar and allow fear and a closed-mind to dictate our actions.

We can choose compassion and hope . . . or to deny within us the very essence of what makes us human beings.

2 thoughts on “The Fickle Crowd

  1. I attended the palm Sunday procession in my little village in Lower-Franconia. And I sadly recognized that in contrast to ten or fifteen years ago, the crowd of believers melted to a very little group of mainly greyhaired people. There is no more regular priest in our village left and so the service was celebrated by a retired old monk whose words were hardly incomprehensible whose appearance announced the inevitable death who was confuse in the order of the ritual. What a picture – what a situation! What a metaphor to the spiritual constitution of my village – of our society.
    On the other hand on Friday I attended a group meeting of a new forming group of pioneers of change. For me the very best moment of this meeting was the want of the group to have a ritual for the parting. Spontaniously the ritual came out of the group. We stood in a circle and laid our hands on top to each other in shape of a star and then rose them up to the sky. What a deep feeling and impression! What a expression of the spiritual constitution of this group.


  2. Thank you. Yes, life these days is full of contrasting examples of the state of humanity. Amidst the crumbling old order are deep and meaningful signs of an evolving humanity.

    If other readers have such examples to share, we’d love to hear them



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