Physical distancing. Over 2,000 years ago, this concept that we have been urged to follow for the last several weeks, was furthest from the minds of the people of Israel. The crowds had gathered to celebrate the triumphant entrance of Jesus Christ, our Savior, as he rode in on a donkey on the road to Jerusalem. From a modern perspective, this gathering of the crowds was essentially a parade - the Greatest Parade Ever! In the ancient parade, the followers of the Son of God laid cloaks and palm branches in front of Jesus on the road. Today, as we look forward to celebrating Palm Sunday, we can still share a special passion for Christ's journey that occurred a week before his resurrection. Obviously, at least on April 5, 2020, we will need to be creative with our celebration.
Yes, on Palm Sunday, in every year since I can remember, we were handed a palm branch as we entered a church. This year, we will not be able to "physically" gather as a congregation and wave a palm branch. However, through the blessings of technology and Pastor Kim's and Ken's inspirational messages, we will still be able to experience the hope and peace that Christ's entrance into Jerusalem brought to the believers in Israel. In our own way, we can also sing along with the chorus of disciples as Jesus approached the path from the Mount of Olives:
"Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!"
While we are currently swimming in uncharted waters of change due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the journey to the city of Christ's death and the sound of the words, "He is Risen" provide special strength and comfort as we lean on our faith to calm our thoughts of uncertainty. As our sins died with Christ on the cross, our hope for a return to normalcy and life as we knew it will rise up in the presence of our Savior.
As a Christian community, we share grief with those who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, asking for God's peace and strength through prayer. We continue to pray for those afflicted with the coronavirus and for everyone in the medical and healthcare fields as they risk their lives on the front lines. No, we will not be gathering as a congregation physically, but our gift from our Creator to unite together as One - to realize that "We are all in this together," - is symbolic of the wondrous palm-adorned unity that Christ witnessed on his road to Jerusalem. Palm Sunday in the year 2020 is a day that we won't forget, but it will truly be a day of celebration when physical distancing gives way to a journey of New Hope for humanity!