Prayer before reading the Liturgy of the Passion

God, when the palms have been waved,
a few industrious kids
fashion them into crosses
while more obstreperous ones
turn them into swords,
to the discomfiture of their parents
as though swords and crosses
were not kissing cousins.

And we who plan the service
do the same thing —
wave the palm scriptures
for all the fragile joy they are worth,
and then, turn to the verses
of sorrow, of betrayal,
of brutality and of loss.

Bless this Sunday observance of palms
as sword-words and cross-roads,
handfuls of ashes
and the hope of alleluia.

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