Today was Palm Sunday.
I quite like Palm Sunday. And I don’t really have a good reason why. At least not a good spiritual/inspiring reason that I can share and then feel all insightful.
I think I like it because it reminds me of childhood.
Growing up in the Catholic Church, Palm Sunday was awesome. Much better than the other Lenten holidays, in my small child opinion. I wasn’t contaminated with ashes, put through a wander outside in the cold to talk about the stages of the cross or made to sit in church as opposed to riding my bike and playing with my Easter treats (I promise I was a good kid, not some sort of heathen, but I think these are normal child thoughts). Palm Sunday was the day we got palm branches. Real palm branches. And for a kid who lived in Atlantic Canada, a real palm branch was pretty amazing. We would get to hold them up to be blessed and then take them home. My grandfather knew how to weave them and make them into decorations to put everywhere, which was pretty neat.
So, if I were to be completely honest, I like Palm Sunday for the palms. Because they are cool.
When I got older and started going to other churches, I discovered they did not have real palms. And I have to admit, it was a touch disappointing. I feel like I learned a lot more about the true basis for Palm Sunday beyond the whole palm branch thing. That this was a time where prophecy was fulfilled and where people were so excited to see and welcome Jesus they basically rolled out a carpet of palms for Him. It became a bit more relevant to my faith… But nonetheless, I liked the palms.
So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!” -John 12:13
The church that we go to now, though, has the next best thing… Fake palms. Handed out to the kids. And then they get the kids to parade around the church waving the palms. To remind us what it must have been like when Jesus came to town.
The kids and the fake palms are good and bad combinations. Its like a game of good idea/bad idea from the Animaniacs (cartoon circa the 1990s). Good idea: involving kids in the worship service. Bad idea: giving them pointy fake plants. Good idea: teaching the kids about when everyone waved palms and put them on the path for Jesus to come. Bad idea: getting the kids to wave palms in proximity to one another.
As you can likely picture or surmise from personal experience, this is rather entertaining. Some kids get all into it. Others look like you are killing them softly. And as always, someone is bound to get hurt.
Palm Sunday this year reminded me of a few valuable things.
First of all, you can derive fun out of something as simple as a plastic dollar store piece of plant.
Second of all, always protect your eyes. In their defense, I did not see any injuries. But, I could still picture all kinds of fun happening. There were two brothers beating each other with palms on the way to childrens’ church, so it was only a matter of time. This thought can be broadened, though. We really do need to protect ourselves from all kinds of things, physical and otherwise that can harm us… Even if they seem as innocent as a plastic piece of plant.
Third and most relevant, Palm Sunday is a good time to remember the joy and love and excitement people had seeing and greeting Jesus. Kind of like kids who are given fake palms to wave around in church. It is a good time and not something we get to do everyday (well, we get to meet Jesus every day, but not like the people in the Bible story did). It really brings me back to a place of gratitude that we can have such a personal relationship with some as huge as Jesus. And that we can all be a bit more childlike in His midst.
Palms are cool and so is Jesus. This combination makes Palm Sunday a good day.