palm_frondSome of you have asked why we don’t give palms on Palm Sunday. It’s a good question with a semi-long answer.  So here we go.

Please understand, what I’m sharing is not meant to disparage churches that give Palms.  Nor do we think all churches should adopt our philosophy.  But our reason for not giving Palms is rooted in a history few of us know.

About 200 years before Christ, a Jewish revolt led by the son of a country priest named Judas Maccabaeus charged into Jerusalem.  Many rightly believe his quest saved Judaism from the poly-theism of the Greeks.  Indeed, we Christians have much to be thankful for because of his military achievements and the Catholic Bible has two Old Testament books that tell the story.  One of the characteristics of that revolt was the waving of Palm branches as Judas came into the city to fight the Seleucids (occupiers at the time).  He won a descisive military victory and deserves respect.

His victory, however, was short lived as only 80 years later, the Romans moved in and claimed Jerusalem for their own.

Fast forward 80 years.  When Christ comes into Jerusalem (on what we call “Palm Sunday”) the Gospel writers tell us the people celebrate with Palms while Jesus rides in on a donkey and weeps.  You see, Jesus didn’t come into the city to defeat the hated Romans.  Jesus came to defeat Satan, sin and death.  His fight was not going to kill other people, his fight was going to sacrifice Himself.  Forty years after Jesus’ resurrection, Jerusalem would fall to the Romans again and the Temple would be destroyed (as it has remained to this day).  But at the same time Christian hope was flooding out from Jerusalem to all nations and today is larger than it has ever been in human history.

So why no Palms at Waters Church?  Again, it’s a preference not a doctrine.  But we feel it is vitally important that we not associate Christ with a military leader bent on warfare to win a geographic territory.  Christ came to win our hearts by sacrificial death, not military achievement.  Thankfully for us, Christ chose to love His enemies, lay His life down for His friends, and reconcile man to God.

So that’s why we keep the palms in our church limited to the two in our hands.  Let’s use them to serve and love people as Christ our Savior did for us.