Whether you prefer the big leafy green palms, the ones perfect for waving and spreading underfoot, or the long thin sage green palms that mark a joyful exclamation point before being woven into a cross; do not worry, the palms are on their way. They will be waiting just inside the Sanctuary narthex, ready for the Sunday ahead. At 10:02 a.m., there will be a raucous crowd making their way to the Sanctuary doors, and before you can sing “All glory laude and honor” you will see our youngest members charging down the center aisle reenacting that first Palm Sunday. Much like that first Palm Sunday, I imagine there will be children with faces beaming, a few bewildered expressions, and possibly even a handful of scowls.
That annual procession is a profound experience. To be surrounded by a sea of green and so many voices singing praise is almost overwhelming. When the palm fronds stop distracting me, I am also struck by the fact that the children guide the congregation to the very front of the church and the chancel steps. We’re guided straight to the communion table, etched with the words “In Remembrance of Me” and situated just below the Sanctuary cross. If we keep looking up, we can see the story of salvation constructed in tiny pieces of stained glass. I don’t believe that is an accident; the procession ushers us into the very heart of the Gospel.
If the story ended on Palm Sunday with a few forgotten coats and streets strewn with abandoned palm fronds, there would be no reason to mark the day. We remember Palm Sunday because it wasn’t just a procession that welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, it began the events of Holy Week. To faithfully arrive at its end, we have to follow Jesus from the crowded streets to the upper room on Maundy Thursday. We have to go from being a close-knit community sharing a meal to the dark garden and a long restless night. We must join the crowd as they shout “Crucify” as easily as they proclaimed “Hosanna.” We must be willing to follow the long road to the cross and on to the grave.
God’s story is bigger than we can imagine and for the next week, we have the opportunity to be a part of that sacred journey where we come to know the height, depth, and breadth of God’s love poured out in the life, death and indeed resurrection of Jesus Christ. I am honored to join you in that journey.