Comment from Ken: I pray that this Palm Sunday strengthened your and my faith in the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
Scripture: Mark 11: 4 -10
4So they went their way, and found the colt tied by the door outside on the street, and they loosed it. 5But some of those who stood there said to them, “What are you doing, loosing the colt?”
6And they spoke to them just as Jesus had commanded. So they let them go. 7Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their clothes on it, and He sat on it. 8And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
10 Blessed is the kingdom of our father David
That comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
It is Palm Sunday afternoon around four o’clock, and there is a very cold wind outside. The temperature is above thirty-two degrees, but even with the sun shining, the wind makes it feel like a winter not a spring day.
There are so many memories of this Sunday over the years of my life. The first memories I have are associated with the First Baptist Church of Melrose, Massachusetts, and my childhood church. It was the time of the Second World War, and a frightened people flocked to church. Back in those years the church had around sixteen hundred members. A great many of those members attended Palm Sunday and Easter so our church was overflowing with Christians seeking God’s help in a tumultuous time for our nation.
At back of the church were great huge doors that, at least to a young child, which could be opened when there was an overflow congregation. Palm Sunday was one of those times. One year, we were late in arriving, and my mother was so disappointed that we could not sit in the sanctuary and that we had to be squeezed among individual chairs rather than in our usual curved pew in the main church.
The music and the day inspired even we small children as we heard the music from the huge pipe organ and heard about palm branches and the shouts of Hosanna! It was a time when children were mentioned, and we knew that we loved Jesus as well as the adults in that congregation. We watched in our minds as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a humble donkey proclaiming He was the chosen one of God, God’s very Son. Being children we did not question Jesus being the Son of God. (I still don’t doubt that for no one has ever taught or lived a life like our Savior. My reason tells me He was God’s Son. Only God’s Son could preach love and forgiveness of enemies even when His enemies nailed Him to a cross.)
We would go home from that church knowing that this week beginning with Palm Sunday would lead to Jesus’s death and burial, and then, and then, His glorious resurrection from the dead on the next Sunday, Easter.
In the Baptist Church of Melrose, we did not receive palms to wave or take home; that practice came later for me as a minister of Jesus Christ. My memory is somewhat unclear what church it was when I first gave out or took home a palm leaf. I do know that when I was pastor of Second Church in Attleboro that we gave out palms at the end of the service. We did not give them out before the service for we knew full well the children would do what we would have done when we were children, pretend the palms were a sword. Not a good symbol for Jesus, our Lord.
When serving the church in Attleboro, there was a wonderful woman who had been a teacher in the public school system for many years. She had grown elderly, and without a close family, she needed to plan her future years before she was unable to do so herself. As her pastor, she had come to me to discuss her pending move, and we talked about what it might mean and how she was wise to make her move while she was still able to do so. She was admitted to the Daggett Crandall Home in Norton and was allowed to have her automobile for a short time to see if her new life agreed with her. At first, she was lonely but as time passed by, she adapted well and was happy with her decision and her new home.
One time when I visited with her, I mentioned an etching of Mary on her wall. It was beautifully done. She told me how she loved that picture. We visited,, and I returned home.
We had other visits and then this very dear and wonderful woman passed away. I was so surprised when I had a telephone call from her lawyer telling me that she had left her etching of Mary to me. Every Palm Sunday from the time I received that picture, I have placed the palms from Palm Sunday above that beautiful picture. This morning Dale and I received palms at church, and lo and behold when I came home, I realized that I do not have that picture yet in my new study. One of my tasks for this week will be to find, unpack that gift, and to hang it. I’ll place my palm above it and remember with fondness and respect my church member and friend of some twenty-six or more years ago.
There were palms distributed at Four Corner’s Community Chapel and at Candleberry Chapel as well. They might have been distributed in other churches I served, but in every church of which I was the pastor I loved being the pastor on Palm Sunday. The hymns echo in my head and heart, Ride on Ride on in Majesty, All Glory Laud and Honor, all those hymns praising our Lord and His courage to ride into the city of Jerusalem, proclaiming He was the long awaited Messiah knowing His words would lead to His death.
In my adult years, Palm Sunday has always meant to me a march of courage. It takes courage to live this life and not have your beliefs compromised by your enemies. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prays to God to give Him the courage to live by His teachings and to sacrifice His life that all followers might know the truthfulness of His words. When you and I need to have courage when facing a difficult decision in our lives, WE need to remember our Lord’s courage on Palm Sunday and to remember God walked with Him.
During this week, take time to remember the life of our Lord Jesus. Walk with Him this final week of His life and pray that you and I might live by His teachings even when the world ignores and despises them. Think of Him on Thursday as He has His last supper with His disciples. Go with Him in the Garden of Gethsemane and hear His prayer. Follow Him as He carries His cross and is crucified at Golgotha; then rejoice with your fellow Christians as we sing and believe – Christ the Lord is Risen Today.
Prayer: O Lord, we rejoice this Palm Sunday and are filled with gratitude for His courage. May we be granted the courage to walk to the scene of His crucifixion and still live by His words and bring His glorious kingdom to earth. Amen.
“And now may the Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from the other. Amen.”