Carmel Bulletin, 4 March 2018
Sometimes we can get really hung up on words.
Take “Palm” Sunday for example. Yes, it was a practice in Palestine in Jesus’ time to use palm branches to welcome dignitaries. Yet, when looking through a reputable Bible translation, only the gospel according to John specifically names palm branches. In the same translation, Matthew mentions branches, Mark mentions leafy branches (or greenery), and Luke doesn’t mention branches at all.
The point of the text – and our ritual practice nowadays on Palm Sunday – is not the type of plant, but the purpose of the action. The people of Jerusalem were welcoming a King. We too give glory, praise and honour to our King. While many of us are used to doing this by using palms, some use olive branches (remember that Jesus entered Jerusalem via the Mount of Olives), while people in other parts of the world today would use what is available to them.
So this year, on Palm Sunday, we invite you to bring your own cutting of a branch, from any tree or plant, to use as we commemorate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. We would also greatly appreciate it if you can bring some palms or some other branches for people who don’t have any. In this way, we can make the honouring and praising of Christ, our King, very much our own in this place and time.