Every year around this time, I reminisce about the passion playâ€”a musicalâ€”that I grew up watching and performing in at my home church. The Palm Sunday scene was certainly a highlight, as costumed children and adults processed through the church toward a Jesus who stood waiting for us at the front. The full-body experience of praising with hands, feet, voice, and heart is not one easily forgotten, especially for a young one who got to look into the eyes of â€œJesusâ€ at the end.
The original Palm Sunday was part protest, part street parade, and likely felt much different from the stately, music-led procession that we staged in our sanctuary. Whether Jesus would have greeted the crowd with a smile or a scowl, given what he was headed toward, weâ€™ll never know. But the original and our reproductions have one thing in common: both are acts of resistance.
The band that followed Jesus through Jerusalem was seeking something other than the procession of military and political might that Rome would have staged earlier that day for Pilate. To hail anyone other than the authorities was risky, yet undoubtedly freeing for those weary of the oppressive status quo.
In our day, too, daring to sing, praise, and shout glory when the world around seems more than bleak is an act of resistance. We do not ignore the pain of the world when we gather to worship. On the contrary, we bring it with us and yet rise to sing and praise. Sometimes, resilience comes from the outside in. Our spirits may be downtrodden, but when we sing and wave and move, we may just find the life coming back into us again, freed as we remember who we are and whose we are.
Wherever youâ€™re worshipping this coming week, I encourage you to join in the parade. Our palms have already arrived; if youâ€™re local to the area and plan to worship from home, swing by the fellowship room and pick a few up. Then on Palm Sunday morning, we can all wave and shout and sing together, daring to trust that even amidst great trials, God is not done with us yet.