I knew we were in trouble when the deacon told me that the palms on the altar had shriveled up and look liked they were dead. Not a good omen before the start of Holy Week services. Perhaps, our fresh palms were picked too early and didn’t survive the trip from down south, or more likely, the church heat went off during the week and the palms froze.
No time to worry about small details, I had invited our religion teacher to bring the kids up to the altar and bless palms and have the kids walk the procession. Later, I would ask this same teacher to walk the Stations of the Cross with the children in place of the traditional long Passion reading. Of course, rubrics were stretched in this matter, but I had observed two weeks earlier before the parish retreat, the children walking the station with much reverence and wonder. Now I'm sure you remember the typical Palm Sunday service that includes your infamous response to the question: what shall we do with Him? and you shout back or more likely, mumble your response: “crucify him, crucify him.” So for a change of pace, I asked the parishioners to imagine themselves as a child listening to this passion story for the first time.
This is exactly what happened this Palm Sunday, as the children’s teacher explained each station and asked the kids what each story on the walls of the church was all about.
There was one difficult moment for this teacher when she started to explain the moment "when Jesus meets his mother." She shared this was her favorite station and started to cry-holding back the tears. I learned what all women must be feeling at that moment. To look into the eyes of your son and realize that you have no power to save your son from the pain of cruxificion. I’m sure our children noticed how upset their teacher was feeling but they could not understand why. Yet, the humanness of that moment brought tears to the congregation. I cried with them. For no mother wants to see her child suffer at any age. With great courage and determination, this teacher continued her lesson and she was simply "awesome."
After the services, as the parishioners were leaving the church, they shared their profound appreciation for the creative way the Passion had been brought back into their life. Interesting, no one complained about the shriveled up palms.
God loves us into eternity as we pray: “But you, O Lord, be not far from me; O my help, haste to aid me.” (Psalm 51: 14).
Lord, I pray for all my Sonshine Friends this Holy Week that they remember Your love for them despite the personal pain and suffering that sometimes makes them weep.