Palm Sunday in the Palestinian Church
By Ursula Mukarker
A Tour Guide Student
One of my favorite days of the year is Palm Sunday. It’s springtime in Palestine, the weather is usually beautiful, the sun is in the middle of the sky, red poppy flowers spread across the fields, bees and butterflies dancing magically among the blossoming trees. Mother Nature is setting the scene for the rebirth.
It’s one of those days of wearing your best clothes to church. In church, you will meet Christian Palestinians proudly holding Palm branches in their hands praying their liturgy in Arabic commemorating the day Jesus entered Jerusalem as Savior and King. I remember when I was a child there was always a competition among us children who would have the most beautifully decorated branch.
As Jesus was riding a donkey into Jerusalem, a large crowd was gathering and laying down palm branches and cloaks across the road, honoring Jesus as a king. Hundreds were calling out, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Jesus’ message on Palm Sunday is a message of humility and peace.
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the Holy Week, Jesus’ final week on earth, leading up to Easter. For many, Palm Sunday is a last reminder for those who were not able to fast yet. Palm Sunday is connected with many traditions, rituals, and preparations. Although, that morning churches are rejoicing, by the end of the day, the mood starts to shift into a bittersweet conclusion to the Holy Week. Many arrangements take place at home, too! Everything from planning the Easter menu, to making ma’amoul (Palestinian traditional Easter cookies), to coloring eggs, and picking Easter outfits.
Now, let us take a minute and shift away from the loudness of these preparations, and ask ourselves: How can we actually understand the message of Palm Sunday? When many of the same individuals who cried out “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday were also shouting “Crucify him!” on Good Friday. What we learn is that our faith must be as solid as Jesus’ love for us since it’s easy to go with the flow and get infected and carried away by the euphoria.
I wish you would have the opportunity to get a glimpse of Easter in the Holy Land since it is a real treat!
Christ Is Risen! He Has Risen Indeed!
Director of the Organization Wings of Hope for trauma in Bethlehem
Currently a student at Bethlehem Bible College