Today is Palm Sunday in the eastern tradition, and it’s always been one of those interesting holidays. I am Coptic, and for us, Holy Week is a roller coaster of emotions. Especially on Palm Sunday. We are extremely joyous in the morning. We are weaving all kinds of artifacts out of the palm leaves: crosses, donkeys, and even fruit bowls. We are singing “Hosanna in the highest!” in different languages, and we are joining our forefathers of long ago, singing praises during Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. When suddenly, within a few minutes we are immediately, and almost uncomfortably interrupted by a sudden switch to the solemn tone of Holy Week, where the songs are sad, and the fabrics are dark. We are joyful and we are thrusted into being mournful.
In my younger days, I always felt that we needed a more gradual shift. If only I could put my hand on a liturgical fader knob, and gradually dim the lights so my eyes and mind can adjust. However, this year in particular, things have been rather dim, and so the sudden shift feels more natural. This past year, the world has seen so much blood, and the future seems so bleak. And for many there seems to be little reason to celebrate at all. But this sort of pain and uncertainty isn’t new to humanity, and especially to the population of Christians, Shia, Kurds, and Yazidi living in Iraq. Yet somehow many who are in this situation are bearing an attitude “always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:16-18). A tall order, but it’s been the mechanism for many for survival and strength over the generations, so why should today be any different?
This Noon Project comes at a time when we are called to be joyful and hopeful in times of extreme sadness and uncertainty. And it is in this season that this idea is being given birth. In the United States we are fortunate enough to be able to celebrate our faith under the protection of the law, but that is not so for so many in the world. It is for those that we do this project.
I am seeking for all of us on this project, all the wisdom, grace, and fortitude, as we embark on this journey together in the creation of this musical work, that we hope can impact the lives of those marginalized by hate. We hope that we can better understand how we can be unified during these turbulent times and be a source of hope for each other.