Palm Sunday Reflections

FL-Highland-Hammock-079Today is Palm Sunday.  In churches all around the world one likely found the presence of palm branches this morning.  Palm trees are common out where Rob lives but not here in Kentucky.  Still, we made sure to have palms available for our service.  Why?  On Palm Sunday we remember Jesus’ dramatic entry into Jerusalem long ago and how the crowds grabbed palm branches to lay on the ground before him in order to show the anticipated Messiah honor and respect.  The display of palm branches was accompanied by shouts of “Hosanna!” and “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

I like the idea that palm branches were used to cushion Jesus’ path as he rode the donkey into Jerusalem.  It seems appropriate.  After all, Creation’s primary purpose is to bring glory to God.  Although there is a sense in which all created things honor God solely by their existence, in this instance the palm branches were collected and used to worship the One who made the heavens and the earth.

 I think we should include elements of nature in our worship more often.  Many churches use flowers to help decorate the sanctuary.   In the southern Appalachians there is a lovely tree that blooms in late March or early April called the Serviceberry.  It usually is pronounced “SAR VIS” but the name goes back to the fact that churches in the mountains would gather branches each spring to brighten their worship “service.”

In a lot of churches there is almost no visible connection between God and nature.  Little emphasis is placed on God as Creator.  I think the writers of both the Old and New Testaments would have trouble with this.  Both Testaments give great honor to the God of Creation.

I’d like to see more churches make proper use of God’s various gifts in Creation as elements of worship.  Doing so could help us remember our vital role as stewards of Creation.  Doing so might very well help lead us into more meaningful worship.

–Chuck

(The image above was taken at Highlands Hammock State Park in Florida.)