Today is Palm Sunday, this slightly anomalous blip of joyousness in the midst of Lent and Passiontide. Of course, those of us who creep around churches habitually will know that Palm Sunday recalls the story of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. Such is the joy of that occasion that we will hobble around our grounds nursing our newly blessed palm crosses whilst singing 'Ride on Ride on In Majesty' at seven different speeds, losing a verse between the front and back of the procession. It's tradition. It must be done.
The story of Palm Sunday has the implicit taunt of 'how the mighty will fall', and the uncomfortable semi-presence of unseen pedestals upon which we will place the soon-to-be-slain. Of course, we read the Gospel and we inwardly judge the perpetrators, knowing of course that we would never do the same. Oh no, not us, m'lud.
Palm Sunday, for me, has taken on the tint of modern society and its ways, and dear old Britney Spears seemed always to be the poster girl for that tendency. I have never bought or owned one of her records, have no real desire to either. However, the fortunes of this young woman have always troubled me. She is no saint, and maybe even errs in the opposite direction at times. But we all do. I have to say too, that her fall from grace was painful and upsetting to behold.
The tendency to which I refer is this psychopathy in all of us to raise people up so that we can enjoy the blood-sport of seeing them fall. Oh how we love to watch people fall into disrepute. Britney Spears, Billie Piper, Charlotte Church, Drew Barrymore, and many others - all relative kids who became idols in one moment, and the meat for the next press sandwich the next. In these cases, it was more to do with too much too young - but we have all enjoyed the parades of their retribution. This picture of Ms Spears summed it all up for me; a talented kid who had lost her way and the world itching to see her fall. Fall she did, watch we did. We bought the press editions too, watching our tellies tutting.
Palm Sunday feels a little like that for me these days. Those who will eventually crucify the Bethlehemite carpenter will be guilty of not understanding what is really going on with Jesus. They were the ones who were so ready to elevate him to such celebrity in one moment only to haul him down the next. We in our third millennium churches will preach and heap curses upon the Jews of Jerusalem of the fourth decade - mere moments before we return to our newsprint and our internets to bay for the blood of the next hapless celebrity (or, in a fit of decency look away because it has nothing to do with us, of course).