Ashlie Miller: Wave those palms
Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 1, 2023
If you enter or perhaps even pass by a church this Sunday, you will likely notice palm branches decorating the entryway or other parts of the building. In the Christian faith, it symbolizes worshiping the Messiah, Jesus Christ. When he entered Jerusalem to present himself as Messiah, the people waved palm branches as he rode upon a donkey, a symbol of peace.
Palm branches in worship are not isolated to that one New Testament passage. The Old Testament book of Leviticus reveals the use of palm branches as one of many elements in celebrating the annual Feast of Booths.
In John 12, during the triumphal entry of Jesus, the people waved palm branches, which had become a national symbol of victory during their day. They fully anticipated a conquering warrior to ride in to announce that their foes (who at the time were the Romans) were about to be defeated. Boy, were they in for a surprise, as this Messiah had very different plans – to conquer sin, death, and hell in the redemption of our souls.
Palm trees are not typical of most NC Piedmont residential landscapes. I have a couple of neighbors with palm trees in their front yards that have endured for some time, and they are lovely – though extracting a branch from them is not easy. However, we have other palms we can wave or raise to celebrate victory and worship. At the end of both of our arms are palms that are ever with us, ready to be used.
King David used his palms quite often. You may recall him either as the “man after God’s own heart” or that guy who was really good at sinning (but he was better at repenting). Here are just a couple of examples:
“Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.” (Psalm 28:2)
“I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land.” (Psalm 143:6)
On Palm Sunday, I will lead my younger elementary Sunday School class in tracing their little palms onto green construction paper and forming them into palm leaves to wave along with the palm branches they will be given as they enter the church. It is a lovely way to introduce them to worship the Messiah.
Whether or not you attend a church this Sunday that passes out palm branches, you can still take a moment to raise your own palms in worship.
Palms outstretched high can be a posture of surrender. What things do you need to surrender to the Savior? What victories do you need Christ to win for you?
Palms held in front of you may be a posture of letting go and receiving. What good gifts from the Father do you need to allow yourself to receive by letting go of other things?
Are you ready to wave palms?
Have a blessed Palm Sunday!
Ashlie Miller grew up in China Grove and will be waving palms on Palm Sunday at Grace Covenant Church in Charlotte, where her husband pastors.