Happy Palm Sunday! As I got ready for church today and enjoyed the processional and liturgy I was reminded of Palm Sundays I celebrated as a child at our little Methodist church in Battle Ground, Washington. For some reason Palm Sunday was always one of my favorite days as a child. I remember Palm Sunday commonly being one of the first sunny or slightly warm days in the cold, rainy western-Washington spring. Perhaps God was showing his grace to all of the many church members who would be parading around their sanctuaries, waving palm branches that day. Another cherished memory of Palm Sunday involves the spear-like palm fronds that our church would always use. I remember regularly getting into trouble with my brothers as we turned our palm fronds into weapons to whip one another with as the good kids folded their palms into nice little crosses. I think another thing a I really liked about the day was its uniqueness. There is something unique about a bunch of reserved business-like people walking around a church waving palm branches.
Undoubtedly as a child, I liked the festive nature of the Palm Sunday service. When I got older I began to appreciate the irony of the day, that this celebration of Jesus with cries of "Hosanna" would shortly turn into the Passion of Christ, with cries of "Crucify Him!" Today in our service, as part of the liturgy, we joined in with the crowd, saying, "Crucify Him!" When we say this we express an important truth. That we are just as guilty as those who crucified our Lord. That it was not the nails that held Christ to the cross but our own sin.
I still love Palm Sunday. I love that it is a festival of Christ's coming to the city. I still long to see Christ welcomed with cries of Hosanna and the laying down of palm branches. But it is not only a day of festivity but also a day of the cross. Ultimately there can be no festivity, no real joy, without the cross.