A Simple Palm Branch

Two people walk into a church on Palm Sunday. The liturgy begins with bells and the reading of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. Everyone sings about the “First One Ever” – it’s all about who recognized what was happening – that a Messiah had been born, that the Christ was at the well, that the empty tomb meant life had conquered death. Not the traditional Palm Sunday hymn fare.

Anyone who wanted one got a palm branch. The palm in the Christian Tradition has come to represent both praise and denial. It’s how people acknowledged a king – by waving branches and laying them on the road before him. It’s how the week began for Jesus – with praises ringing in his ears.

This is a painful week – remembering all the praises that gave way to accusations. Seeing the powerful respond so viciously to what they perceived as a threat to their position of privilege, and finally having to witness the violent extremes to which people will go in a desperate attempt to make sure nothing changes.

Two people walk into a church on Palm Sunday. One takes a branch and manipulates it into a cross. The other fashions the branch into a flower – a rose. Something heavy, rough and full of splinters; something soft, fragrant, beautiful, surrounded by thorns; these are the symbols we hold this week – a simple palm branch, bread broken, a cup shared – “These,” we say, “represent the hope of the world!”

A blessed Tuesday.

Mark Demers

Want to talk about sex, politics, spirituality? So do I. I grew up in a religious home in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Our country was reeling from assassinations and the devastation of the Viet Nam War. Looking for something beautiful, I got a degree in music, married the love of my life and had children. Looking for God, I then went to seminary. Looking for something that might transform the world, I became a local church pastor. Now, I’m always looking for people who want to talk about important things. I cherish conversations with emerging leaders, people who are antsy to try an idea they believe would change the world for the better. I’d would love to hear from you.

  • Beth Clark Demers

    There are thorns on the rose. We want to be the rose (sweet smelling,beautiful, welcoming), but we have thorns. How do we welcome with our human thorns? It reminds me of the children’s book: “How do you hug a porcupine.” The answer in the book is “carefully”. Do we want to be a church that is carefully embraced? How do we help ourselves lay down the thorns?