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Waving palms

by Jaynan Clark Egland (President, WordAlone Network)

April 11, 2003

As in many other Lutheran churches, gatherings are taking place at Prince of Peace in preparation for Holy Week and Easter services. We were rehearsing for a dramatic reading that will be a part of our Palm Sunday service when one of the readers began to reflect on the images he had seen on the TV of the day’s events. I had not yet seen any of the war coverage that day. He reported how he had seen the Iraqi people cutting palm branches and waving them as the troops entered their neighborhoods.

Could it possibly have been a rehearsal for Sunday’s readings? This is the contemporary palm waving of real and present life. Perhaps as confusing and complex an image today as it was from the other side of the cross.

As he shared the images he had seen he said, “The choir will sing, ‘In Just Five Days’ on Sunday. He continued, “As I watched them [on television] waving their branches, I thought of the ominous words of the impending betrayal and darkness that lie ahead—beyond the palms—and I wondered, what is next in the streets of Baghdad?”

A haunting question, indeed.

Not as reeds blowing in the wind, nor palms waving in the air … our certainty and confidence can never be in humankind nor in our actions, responses or accomplishments. Certainty can never be in this kingdom but only in the kingdom of God realized in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. In this sure and certain hope, we enter Holy Week knowing that in the midst of all the chaos and questions and waving palms, our security is in Jesus Christ alone.

May all in the midst of the war, in streets beneath the palms, be free from betrayal, denial, punishment, suffering and death. May this week be “wholly” centered in prayers of hope and confidence. May our prayers be prayers of thanks that our freedom is in Jesus Christ alone, prayers for the safe and timely return of our troops to their homes and families.

Let our prayers be that the empty tomb of Easter will be the hope and confidence of the grieving families of those lost in combat on the faraway streets beneath the palms.