Churches can be fairly intimidating places, especially if you’ve never been before. Some of us have been going to church a long time, and have developed a sort of “church blindness” that makes us oblivious to the things we enjoy and do every week. We know when to stand, and when to sit. We know the music. We know what communion is and how it goes every time. We even know that it’s ok to have a fussy kid or that the world doesn’t end if someone spills a coffee. But these are the things that can grip a visitor with anxiety.
Now imagine with me, that you walk into a church for the first time in a long time, or for the first time ever. You mustered up enough courage to go somewhere new, somewhere you don’t quite understand, somewhere maybe you don’t fit in. You are greeted by someone kind and warm at the door, they point you towards an auditorium so you can find a seat, and as you enter through the doors someone passes you a palm branch and says “Welcome to Palm Sunday”. Say what now? What the heck is Palm Sunday and what are you supposed to do with this thing? What have you gotten yourself into. Now your worried about what to do with this branch, and thinking of all the Sundays you could have chosen to go to church, you chose one where they pass out leaves.
Palm Sunday is a celebration that happens every year one week before Easter. It’s a day where churches all of over the world celebrate Jesus and his life that lead him to the cross. It is inspired by the account of Jesus entering the City of Jerusalem the week that he would be taken into custody, killed on a cross, and finally raised to life.
It’s a story of a hot and sweaty day, with Jesus riding on the back of a donkey approaching the city (Matthew 21). As he gets closer there’s a buzz, an excitement growing as people begin to realize who Jesus is. So they roll out the red carpet. They use anything they can find, anything they have to lay down in his path. Some people use the clothes off their backs, and others run and grab branches off the trees and lay it the path of Jesus. It was a spontaneous moment of incredible worship as the crowd began to shout “Hosanna” which is a word of praise and adoration.
There is a lot that can be taken from the story, and a lot of reasons why the global church celebrates this moment in time. At Fort City Church we love this story because it carries a message that applies to both the seasoned church goer and the first time visitor. That when Jesus comes into your life, he doesn’t expect from you what he deserves. All the gold and silver in the world isn’t enough to match hisworth. But instead he expects from you what you have to give, whether you think its enough or not. Even if it’s a simple palm branch laid at the feet of a King.