Palm Sunday in Dunedin was marked by a truly royal entry this morning. And none were more impressed than students from St Hilda’s Collegiate School.
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Katherine, attended Choral Eucharist at St Paul’s Cathedral, and a number of St Hilda’s students had key roles in the service..
About 480 people filled the cathedral, while more than 3000 waited in the Octagon. The crowd outside had begun to gather from as early as 7am.
Cheers went up as the royal couple emerged from their car and made their way up the steps. The crowd then waited patiently for the couple to emerge for a brief walkabout.
Students from St Hilda’s compared notes – ‘she looks like an angel’ and 'I knew she would wear that colour’ – as they watched the walkabout from the cathedral steps.
The students’ roles in the service included reading, distributing palm crosses and administering communion.
One student, Emma Cunningham, gave the royals their palm crosses – and was relieved that a case of nerves did not make her fumble.
Another student, Tessa Woodhouse, commented that everything was on such a large scale but it still felt like worship. She noticed the Duke and Duchess didn’t get any special treatment.
Worship that was as ‘normal' as possible was a request of the royal household, and that was the aim of Dean Trevor James.
His sermon focused on the choice each person has to pick up a palm cross and follow Christ.
The Dean described the decision of poet James K Baxter, who believed God was calling him to journey from Dunedin to Jerusalem on the Whanganui River.
Dean Trevor said the decision to follow Christ is not one that can be totally rationalised.
“We are not required to undergo great hardships or undertake a barefoot pilgrimage but simply to use this liturgy as a step through the gateway of our imagination and follow the one who is beyond the clutch of concepts or logic.”
He encouraged the congregation to each take up their cross as the journey of Holy Week started.