Palm Sunday will look a lot different this year. The beginning of Holy Week starts off so beautifully, even in the school gymnasium where we rent space for our weekly worship. Our Good Sam’s Littles, Kids and Explorers all line up with palms, waving them just as triumphantly as the crowds did so long ago, shouting, “Hosanna!” to welcome our fellow congregants into the worship space. The people smile and wave as they pass, singing with a little more joy than on a typical Sunday, with the Holy Spirit embracing everyone as a mother hen protectively shelters her chicks under her wing. The Spirit keeps us in her protective embrace as the mood quickly goes from celebratory to somber when the dramatic reading of Christ’s Passion begins.

While it’s going to look and feel much different this year, I challenge us all to accept the Holy Spirit’s embrace as fervently as we would if we could meet together. So, what exactly does that look like and how do we do it? The last time I looked, I do not have a bunch of palm fronds lying around waiting to be plucked and waved. But I do have a lot of unrealistic expectations to homeschool my kids, limit their screen time, feed them all healthy meals that they’ve helped prepare, and get them outside for exercise on a daily basis. I do have feelings of cabin fever that make me look for reasons to run to the store, or anywhere else I shouldn’t go, just to get out of the house. I have anxiety that ignites with every story of someone sick or losing their battle with this illness. I have fear for my friends who are on the frontlines, doing their best to help others. What if instead of palms this year, I lay down all of those things to put between the ground and my savior for him to walk upon; my Savior who takes away the fear of death, my Savior who reminds me every day to love my neighbor? What if my Hosanna’s this year are my triumphant rally to release these toxicities and let Jesus, on his colt, push them down into the ground, burying them with each foot fall?

I can do this if I allow the Spirit to take me up in her arms to lift me up in her protective embrace, high enough over the crowd to see that the Lord indeed has come.

When these fears and anxieties and desires and expectations return, as they most certainly will, I can find peace this Holy Week and beyond knowing that I have the Spirit with me and the Promise of the Good News that is to come. What can you lay down?

-Barbie Russell, Director of Children’s and Family Ministries



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