The Monday after Palms.

Monday, March 17th, 2008

I didn’t write yesterday, but now I will write about yesterday. Palm Sunday is probably my third, maybe even second favorite holiday. There is something so lovely about it, after an already somber five weeks of Lent have passed, to have a day of celebration before the darkest days of the passion set in. Even though this celebration was based largely on a misunderstanding (that Christ was about to liberate the Jews from Roman persecution) I still like to imagine that at least for one day during his life on earth Jesus was recognized as a champion. Maybe this has always been more exciting for me than it ever was for Jesus. As a child I would imagine Jesus riding in on a donkey and beaming, delighted by the praise and adoration being lavished on him. But how happy could he have been really, knowing full well of the torture and eventual death that awaited him at the end of the week? How happy could he have been to know that these people who were waving palms so elated before him were completely missing the point? That these people were looking for a savior that would fall far short of what they truly needed? Maybe for Jesus Palm Sunday was a little depressing.

Regardless, I can’t help but love it, along with the pale reenactment that inevitably constitutes most church services on the day. Our service featured jubilant songs of “Hosanna to the King!” and a procession of children waving palm fronds. Adults in the congregation also got to wave palm fronds. I waved a palm frond. What is it about the palms that I love? To those of you reading this from Hawaii (ahem) or anywhere tropical, try not to take them for granted. To a congregation in Wisconsin who has just endured a seemingly endless gray winter there is nothing so promising as a bunch of green palm leaves being waved about. There is life, after all, in this dead world. There is hope! Great, green life, with even greater life to come. Palm Sunday may have originated out of a misunderstanding, but for the life of me I can’t get myself to focus on that. Palm Sunday is a taste, I think, of what is to come. There will be a real celebration. We will wave palms. And we’ll trade “Hosanna”s for “Hallelujah”s!