This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday, which marks the beginning of Holy Week. On this day, we remember how Jesus humbly rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. This Sunday is called Palm Sunday because the crowds placed palm leaves and branches at Jesus’ feet as he arrived. This may sound strange to us today, but in ancient Palestine, the act of laying palm leaves and branches at someone’s feet was a sign of homage that carried royal implications.

This Palm Sunday will be very different for all of us. However, this doesn’t mean we can’t continue to recognize and celebrate this ancient tradition together. We may not be able to gather in person and share in the tradition of the palms as we usually do; however, we can gather our own palms and participate in a virtual remembrance of this day. In fact, the rubrics of The Book of Common Prayer state that we can use “branches of other trees and shrubs” ( The Book of Common Prayer , page 270) to celebrate this occasion.

Therefore, I would encourage you to go into your yards or a nearby park and collect leaves, branches or sticks (a personal favorite of our 5- and 2-year-old boys). If you can’t make it outside, then draw and cut out—or Google and print out—your own creation. Then join us in waving your palms during our live stream Palm Sunday service. 

Further, what if this Palm Sunday we not only collected or created our own palms and branches, but also displayed them proudly in and on our front doors or windows, for all to see? Then, what if we post a picture of our homemade or collected palms on our social media? Better yet, post them to St. Martin’s Facebook Page or send them to use following the guidelines below. [i]

Imagine the effect of all those images drawing us together, out of our isolation. In the midst of our social distancing, perhaps this would serve as an outward and visible sign of God’s inward and spiritual presence among us as we enter into this holiest of weeks.

This visible and tangible reminder may also remind us that, although we may be physically isolated, we are not separated. We are—and always will be—united as St. Martin’s Episcopal Church and the Body of Christ. 
 
On this day, he entered the holy city of Jerusalem in triumph, and was proclaimed as King of kings by those who spread their garments and branches of palm along his way. Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life; who lives and reigns in glory with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever.  Amen (Book of Common Prayer, page 271 ).

[i] If your children appear in your photo, please email it to  communications@stmartinsepiscopal.org and include this statement in the email so we abide by our Safeguarding policies. “I give my permission for St. Martin’s Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, to post this photo on its website, Facebook Page and to use it in any other official online or print communication.”