My Palm Sunday yesterday was so vastly different from years before, as it was for so many of you across the States and around the world.
While many were engulfed in unbearable sadness, exhaustion, worry and fear of what the day would bring, others of us (such as those in my small town) awoke from a good night’s sleep. We held onto a sense of safety in our homes and community as life promised to go on almost as usual. News swirled around us of a seemingly unrealistic, unimaginable situation outside our city limits but one which is definitely there.
My mom and I have been mindful of the struggles of others. As Christians, we have been joining in prayer with other faith-centered people on a daily basis. This same can be said for our Palm Sunday yesterday, one which we have not celebrated together for 26 years due to my placements overseas’ .
What did we do?
We began by listening to our online message from Pastor Bob Sabo via Facebook. Bob is seeing us through this time of upheaval with prayers, devotionals, emails, discussion topics and scripture readings. We are so fortunate to have Bob as our spiritual guide to lead us through this challenging faith journey we are all deeply embedded in at the moment.
After our online worship service, our next morning venture was to look for good Palm Sunday music. My mom (former choir director and retired music teacher) and I searched on Youtube for some uplifting new music by modern-day composers. Here are three of our favorites. Hope you enjoy them as well!
Marshall First UMC invitation to take palms
After enjoying our Sunday anthems, it was time to leash our Chinese immigrant rescue, Little Bridget (or Miss B) for her morning walk. This included a swing by the church where our Palm Sunday took on a celebratory air and one of uplifting hope.
Last week, our more creative parishioners relayed to us all that palm branches would be placed on the church steps. We were to swing by at any time during the day to pick up our palm. We could then wave our greetings to Christ around town before carrying our branch home with us.
When my mom and I arrived with Miss B, it was rather late in the morning. Over 1/2 of the branches had been taken already but there were still plenty for us to choose from.
At this point, our extended mother-daughter time together was somewhat tested as I was determined to record this on my cell phone. My mom is not a fan of pictures. She has little patience in having them taken or taking them herself, which does cause a bit of tension between us whenever I request a photo shoot.
My desire to memorialize this special day via photo and video had mostly to do with my Chinese church choir members, my college students on WeChat (the Chinese equivalent of Facebook) and my website. Sharing these Christian traditions with others, Christians and non-Christians alike, is an important part of my life. Since I am not in China at the moment to share in person, what better way to do so than through different forms of media?
I won’t say my mom took up the picture task I assigned her with exuberant enthusiasm, but I will say she did a marvelous job of doing so. Thanks to my mom, I have the below, which I already compiled in my WeChat moments with explanations of what this day means for Christians.
Many of my students and colleagues checking my WeChat postings are already giving positive and “So interesting!” feedback, not to mention my Christian brothers and sisters in the choir.
Of course, Miss B had to be featured in the visuals as well. She hasn’t yet been in America a full year. This was her very first Palm Sunday. If we’d had worship in church, she never would have been able to participate. Yesterday, we made sure she had her special Palm Sunday moment along with us.
Sharing our day together
We next made our way around town. We headed down main street and turned to wind our way along residential streets. Swinging and swaying our palm branches while Miss B trotted along, we met quite a few walkers along the way. People were out like us, enjoying a gorgeous spring day and all the flowering trees it had to offer. We distanced ourselves but made sure to greet one another with “Happy Palm Sunday!” “Blessings!” and “Beautiful day, isn’t it?”
Even with distancing, we can still show unity and togetherness.
Before closing off our outing, we took time to be grateful: Grateful we were together, grateful we were healthy, grateful to have our church community, grateful for living in a caring, small town environment and grateful to watch our country and her people come together with such determination and compassion in this time of need.
We placed our palms in our front yard Easter display, stood back to admire our efforts and headed back into the house to enjoy more uplifting music coupled with personal reflection time on this very trying, yet blessed, Palm Sunday.
From Marshall, here’s wishing you 平安 (ping ahn), peace for your Monday.