We usually stayed up all afternoon on Saturday weaving palm branches for Palm Sunday. We will take our time trying to weave uniquely styled palm branches so that our palm branches will stand out the next morning at church. This was one activity our mother will not scold us for engaging in and indeed on most occasions, she will join and teach us new styles. When God finally blessed us with Sunday morning, we would rise or our mother would wake us quite early and we would run into our garden and sometimes into our neighbours’ gardens and pluck the freshest and most beautiful flowers therein and stick them in our palm branches. How joyful we were to see brightly coloured flower petals sticking out from our green palm branches. We would arrive at church feeling proud about our palm branches only to realize that other children had been engaged in similar and sometimes better creativity and weaving.
Palm Sunday is arguably the best Sunday in the life of children regardless of their religion. At church, we would sing and dance and wave our palm branches and palm fronds joyously without a care in the world. The Sunday school on Palm Sunday was also special. Sunday school ended early and we would take the brass bands and trumpets and together with our Sunday school teachers take to the streets of Accra, singing “Loud Hosannas to Our King.” It was such fun.
I reminisced the foregoing experience in church last year and realized that being a child in Ghana on Palm Sunday was the amazing experience any child could ask for. Such celebration and hosanna singing and palm branch weaving are no longer done.
I hardly see children and their Sunday school teachers take to the streets like we used to. I don’t see the brightly decorated palm branches I used to see when I was growing up as a child. It’s all gone.
But today, I was surprised. It is Palm Sunday and I attended Mount Olivet Methodist Church because it is closer to home. I didn’t see anything spectacular like I usually did as a child. All I saw was the usual single palm fronds and boringly woven palm branches. Again, nothing like I used to see when I was growing up as a boy. Until, after offertory, tons of children, out of nowhere stormed the church waving palm branches woven with style and decorated with flowers singing “Loud Hosannas to our King.” The pastor and the entire congregation remained on their feet singing with the children and as we sang, more children entered the church and filled the walkways and the front of the church. It was so beautiful. The hymn was repeated and repeated with joy and smiles amongst the congregation. Children, who sat on their mother’s laps, leaped and joined the other children to sing loud hosannas. And the children surprisingly waved beautifully woven palm branches to my astonishment.
As we sang the hymn repeatedly for about 20 minutes, I realized the children of Mount Olivet Methodist Church and their Sunday school teachers had brought back memories from my childhood. I enjoyed every bit of it. A kind woman sitting next to me handed me a palm frond to join in the celebration. I believe in that brief moment, the Holy Spirit whispered to me and asked me to share what was whispered with the rest of the world. Many believers often overlook the significance of Palm Sunday.
From our childhood, we are told that Palm Sunday marks Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. Jesus knew he was going to Jerusalem to die. He knew the suffering he was going to go through by going to Jerusalem. He knew He was going to be beaten, ridiculed, spat on, abused, injured, disgraced, put to shame and killed but he still went to Jerusalem. The importance of Palm Sunday lies in the fact that even in the face of all these adversities Jesus knew were going to befall Him, He celebrated his entrance into Jerusalem. People rejoiced and laid their clothes on the ground as He passed by. I don’t know what you many be going through at this very moment but I know it is nothing close to what Jesus knew He would be going through in Jerusalem. Yet, Jesus was happy. I was reminded of 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” Even in our times of trouble, we ought to give thanks to God for there is always something greater for us after the trouble and the trouble only prepares us for the greater thing thereafter.
So join me today, as a child of modern days and sing the famous Hymn Number 837 of the Methodist Hymn Book titled Children of Jerusalem:
Children of Jerusalem
Sang the praise of Jesus’ name:
Children, too, of modern days
Join to sing the Savior’s praise.
Hark, hark, hark!
While infant voices sing,
Hark, hark, hark!
While infant voices sing
Loud hosannas, loud hosannas,
Loud hosannas to our King.