palm sunday

If there’s one thing I like about the catholic tradition, it’s the braided palm branches on palm sunday. I think it’s linked to the Jewish holiday of Sukkot/Soukkhot, about which I’m not qualified to speak so I’m linking wikipedia.

It’s a very old tradition (first records date back to the middle ages).

They’re used to remember the crowd saluting Jesus when he entered Jerusalem.

And there is a very refined technique going into making them.

To make them as white as possible, the palm tree is tied up, so the light can’t reach the “heart” of the plant.

After the “heart” is cut up, the palm tree can’t be used again for two or five years (depending on the place).



Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Resurrection (Easter) Sunday when Christians celebrate Jesus walking into Jerusalem where he eventually would be arrested, beaten and crucified to set us free of our sins. 
(Matthew 21:1-11) 

What do the palms signify 
When Jesus entered Jerusalem the community greeted him with praises and the waving of palm leaves, because they believed that he was their savior.

“The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
The King of Israel!”

John 12: New King James Version

The definition of Hosanna
Hosanna (Hebrew Definition): Save, Rescue, Savior, or Salvation

Why do we still celebrate today?
We still celebrate today because Jesus knew that walking into Jerusalem was the same as walking straight into his own death, and still He made that decision, because He loved us that much… He loved you that much… 

To you, my American brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Palm Sunday, I offer my greetings, a warning, and an encouragement.

First, I want to greet you in the name of the Lord and express to you my love, whether you are the outspoken blogger who will share what they think regardless of reaction or whether you are the quiet blogger who hasn’t really talked much about their personal beliefs. It is enough to know you are there, and that we are family.

But now, a warning. To those of us in America – and I know that this does not apply to all Christians in America, I do not speak to those who follow Christ’s example with all their heart but rather those who may be tempted to take their faith lightly, and I confess that I too am sometimes in that number. Do not let yourself be distracted by things that are ultimately of no importance and forget that we are extremely privileged in this country. Do they mock you here? Do they misrepresent you? Very often, yes. It’s nearly the Internet’s fifth favorite pasttime.
But do not mistake spiteful and mean-spirited jibes from those who do not know or wish to know what you believe for persecution, I urge you.

Our sisters and brothers in other countries are often not thinking of anonymous hate on the Internet or sneering newscasts or laws that we do not always agree with. (Though some laws ought of course be opposed for as much as is possible, especially if they are in opposition to the laws God has given us, such as caring for the oppressed or the refugee). I urge you not to grow complacent, not to take for granted the fact that in this country we are able to go and worship in the way that we choose without wondering in the back of our minds if today is the day our church will be bombed by people who hate us.

This morning in Egypt, two churches were bombed on Palm Sunday, targeted by people whose minds and hearts are filled with hatred. (But I refuse to give the attackers the attention they so desperately want. Instead I want to address the mosques donating blood for those injured in the attack: You fill my heart with joy and with thanks and I hope you are blessed for your kindness)

In light of this, my brothers and sisters, I encourage you – rather, I encourage us, for I do not give you advice as though I myself am not in need of it – not to complain when we appear to lose “rights” or privileges we were formerly accustomed to here. Continue to trust that God is in control, and focus not on the comforts and annoyances of this world (though admittedly this is a difficult thing to do!) and follow Christ’s example with all your heart.

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
First Palm Sunday since IS in Iraq's main Christian town

Members of Iraq’s Christian minority celebrated Palm Sunday in the country’s main Christian town of Qaraqosh for the first time since it was retaken from the Islamic State group.

Hundreds of faithful gathered inside the town’s burnt out Immaculate Conception church for mass before starting the traditional Palm Sunday march, a procession during which palms are carried to commemorate Jesus’s entry to Jerusalem.

Thank God, we are returning to our towns and churches after two years,” Abu Naimat Anay, an Iraqi priest, said inside the church, which is Iraq’s biggest and where jihadist inscriptions were still visible on the walls.

Qaraqosh, with an overwhelmingly Christian population of around 50,000 before the jihadists took over the area in August 2014, was the largest Christian town in Iraq.

It was retaken by Iraqi forces late last year as part of a massive offensive to wrest back the nearby city of Mosul from IS but it remains almost completely deserted.

The archbishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Mouche, moved back to the town last week but it needs to be extensively rebuilt and basic services restored before displaced Christians can return en masse.

…Many of the more than 120,000 Christians believed to have fled their homes when IS swept across the region less than three years ago moved in with relatives or into camps in the nearby autonomous region of Kurdistan.

The celebration in Qaraqosh already had a sombre mood when news broke among the faithful that IS had attacked two churches in Egypt, killing at least 38 people.

The Christians are persecuted, but no matter how much they target us, our belief in God is great and we will stay here because we are not outsiders, we are the owners of the land,” the archbishop told AFP.