Ah, yes – Palm Sunday. That time when we try to recreate some idyllic scene of cherubic-faced children waving branches in front of Jesus – at least that’s what we do in our congregation. And it worked pretty well, too. All the kids gathered together before the service, received their palms, and circled the sanctuary. In the process, they instilled some joy in the adults that would have otherwise been missing.
But do you know what else children do when they receive their palms?
They immediately start shaking them directly at every living thing in sight. And the shaking continues long after the processional that begins the worship service.
All around, parents (myself included) are trying to rein in the misuse of palms. Now I understand the safety concerns. (“Don’t wave that around someone else’s face! You might poke someone’s eye out!”) But really – why is it that we hand these things out and then expect the children to conform to our image of what the triumphal entry looked like? Instead, maybe we should take the opportunity to allow the palm-whacking to form our theology. (And our worship services, too!)
After all, “it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.”