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Waving your palm...

It’s not every Sunday you receive a gift at church. However, on Palm Sunday, we will distribute palm branches to those who attend worship. You may see long palm blades that can be folded into a cross while our worship leaders may be using the leafy palms to wave during the singing of hymns. The palm branches that waved during Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem were a sign of Jewish pride and victory. With so many Jews gathered in town for the Passover festival, it is not surprising that palm branches lined the streets where Jesus rode.

Hosanna! Hosanna!

The cry of the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem was, “Hosanna!” While often used today as a word of praise to God, at the time of the triumphal entry, it carried political undertones. Hosanna is a Hebrew expression that means “O save.” The Jews gathered along the path where Jesus rode called out for him to save them from the harsh political circumstances of the day.

This phrase also makes a direct connection to psalms often sung during the Passover season called the Hallel (Psalms 113–118). In these psalms, the writers express their messianic hopes, anticipating the promised and expected deliverer of the Jewish people. The crowd’s call to Jesus as the “Son of David” also implies that the Jews viewed Jesus as their long-awaited Messiah, the one who would save them from oppression.

Don’t forget Holy Week!

With all the excitement of palms and processionals on Palm Sunday, and the grand fanfare that comes with the Resurrection on Easter, many Christians may receive a false impression that Christianity simply moves from one celebration to the next. However, the most somber days of the liturgical year are observed between these two Sundays as Christians remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ death. The Jesus who lives today is the same Jesus who died to save us. Without Good Friday, there would be no Easter.