Palm Branch Nostalgia

I love Holy Week. Beginning with Palm Sunday. I’ve always loved Palm Sunday.

As a little girl I remember sitting in Sunday school class waiting with great anticipation for “big church.” Not just because I scorned that our church wouldn’t allow me, seven-years-old at the time, to matriculate into my Mom’s adult Sunday school class. And not even because the allotted big church hour was a sure-fire promise of an extended arm-tickle from the hands of one or both of my parents who were clearly trying to keep me sedated during the service. I’ve just loved the theatrics of Palm Sunday from the beginning.

You see, on Palm Sunday, the choir at Houston’s First Baptist Church would come flooding out of all entryways into the sanctuary carrying and waving massive palm branches. I can still picture them in their formal robes down to the floor streaming through the aisles. Yes, I said aisles, for ours was a sanctuary with multiple aisles. A whole bunch of them. I never have understood what all the fuss is about a center aisle. The more aisles the merrier. In my mind, if you’re really a good Southern Baptist, you want more aisles for the invitation at the end of the sermon. It’s less about pretty weddings and more about evangelism, church growth, and Lottie Moon. That’s how we roll.

Fast-forward fifteen years. Times have changed in typical fashion and since I have been out of my parent’s house, I have not attended even one church that has incorporated palm branches into their worship service on Palm Sunday. It’s funny because I tend to think of myself as sort of an old soul, yet I always attend contemporary churches. And I love contemporary churches, I might add. I also really like palm branches. This has created something of a dilemma for me.

An aside – so, last week was a bad week. Now, I didn’t say horrible, but it was relatively bad. I was having some severe migraines that were keeping me tied to the bed, which I hate. Then, my car got hit while it was sitting parked on the street. Hit and run. Go figure, right when we’re trying to pay Uncle Sam. Colin duct-taped it back together so we’re okay now. I then tried to gather myself enough to walk outside so that I could hunt and gather some food, so as not to fail my little family unit. I went to the store, bought all my groceries, and when I got home my rotisserie chicken was raw. It was raw. I have never even heard of a raw rotisserie chicken. Nearly threw me over the edge.

So back to the dilemma. Since I had a relatively stinky week, I knew that another Palm Sunday without palm branches would simply be too much for me to bear. So, we decided this past Sunday to search for the most liturgical church in our area. One that might just have some palm branches. Palm branches are the theme of this blog if you have not gathered it.

Have I told you how much I love the Lord? Sure enough, the congregation had gathered fifteen minutes early in the parking lot so that the branches could be distributed to each congregant. As we walked in the sanctuary, the congregation in its entirety were waving their palm branches. It wasn’t quite like I remembered it, but I didn’t give a rip. I was thrilled. I wanted to make a scene, a scene like David made with the ark of the covenant. I wasn’t planning on stripping off my outer garments (2 Samuel 6:20). But I wanted to make a scene. And I’m not even the especially demonstrative type. I’m actually quite reserved. In our family my mom sort of takes the cake in the dramatic worship department. And we let her. Well, she doesn’t ask for permission. But anyway, there is just something about Palm Sunday. It just moves me. I’d like to think that if I would have been in Jerusalem over two thousand years ago, I would have joined with the multitudes and gone out to meet the living and incarnate God, King Jesus, with a palm branch. Now I probably would have been too stubborn or even too self-conscious, but I like to think that I would have cried out “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD, even the King of Israel!” For, He was and is and is to be worthy of such outlandish and royal acknowledgment.

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t think all churches everywhere need to have palm branches for people to hold on Palm Sunday. I just like it when they do. It is a tradition that I love. I tend to like it when we in our modern day churches try to engage the text and enter in. Palm Sunday is an example of experientially engaging with the text of John 12:12-13 and chiming in with those ancient voices. The modern fused together with the ancient – that’s what’ll get me going all mystical on ya.

Well, at the end of the Palm Sunday service I noticed the sweet lady next to me had several palm branches. So I gently and sneakily took one for myself to keep as a reminder for me during Holy Week. Colin keeps saying I stole her branch. But I didn’t steal her branch. She had like five. I just wanted one. One stinking palm branch to cover up those bleak palm-branch-missing years. Now I realize I should have probably asked her, but I blame my thievery on the Excedrin Migraine.

Oh, and as a side-note, Amanda just called me. She bought Annabeth’s first Easter dress. I’m not bitter. I promise.


This year I am nostalgic for all things Easter and all things Houston and my family. The Fitzpatricks don’t have the luxury of going home to Houston this year – I’ll say it again, we just paid Uncle Sam! And he is seriously grouchy. But, what I would give to buy a pair of outdated white patent leather shoes and a matching floral pastel dress and white hat with Amanda again – if only to embarrass her. She never was much for us matching. She was always too cool.

So if you’re still out there and you haven’t fallen asleep from my various tangents in this blog, then I would love to know what you love most about Holy Week. What is one of your favorite traditions in your home church? Something you look forward to year after year? It doesn’t have to be dogma or even something exceptionally reverent, though it might be; but it could just be something fun or sweet that your church does year after year to build community or even just to set apart this week as unique on the church calendar.

A peek at Easters past…

Annabeth comes from a long line of bow heads.

Look at my face! Is all my nostalgia really a hallucination?

Here we are with our Memaw. And I think that’s the Impala Amanda mentioned a few days ago.

I called my sister and said, “Look at the one of us in the hats.” Then Amanda pointed out that we are, in fact, wearing hats in every picture together. Also, notice her purple quilted Bible carrier.

Happy Holy Week from The Matching Hat Sisters!


200 Responses to “Palm Branch Nostalgia”

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  1. 1
    Melissa says:

    I am having so much fun reading through all these- we have so many denominations represented on this blog- just another reason I love the LPM blog. Love hearing all the different traditions.

    Patty, you have no idea. MacGyver was Colin’s childhood hero. He actually wrote Richard Dean Anderson a letter and even got a letter back from him that he still has! Hilarious.

  2. 2
    Moose Mama says:

    What an incredibly fun, adorable blog entry! I LOVE EASTER! It became a profound experience for me after I was saved. The gratefulness of what Christ had done was palpable. I listen to the Easter section of the Messiah every year.

    As a child, my fondest memories of Easter were of little white brushed cotton gloves….and hats….and little black or possibly white patent leather shoes.

    And Melissa, I’m sure the dear lady next to you had extra branches just so you could have one.

    A Blessed Easter to you and Colin.


  3. 3
    Anonymous says:

    Sunrise Service on Easter morning was a highlight for me when growing up. The sunrise services were always waterside by a very large lake. Beautiful! By the way, the church my husband and I go to in Tampa has the children and youth go up and down the aisles on Palm Sunday waving palm branches at both traditional and contemporary services.

  4. 4
    Kristie says:

    You love to engage the text and enter in? Wow! If/when you do have a baby, you guys need to move four hours south of ATL, join our church, and work in the nursery–we dress up in pillowcase “Bible Costumes” every week and re-enact the story…and, oh yes…you’ve gotta love the silk palm branches we “Hosanna” with! (I tried to chop down some real ones out of my brother’s front yard the first time, but then I thought about how 2 and 3 year olds tend to stick things in their mouths–and how dirty the real ones were!)…

    Since I eat, sleep, and breathe preschool ministry–my favorite things to do during Holy Week are pulling out my set of Resurrection Eggs (little symbols of Holy Week happenings, each tucked inside plastic eggs) and going back through the story–and making sure to sing the Miss Pattycake Eggsravaganza songs as we do it! “Five, five, give me five! Jesus is alive!”

  5. 5
    Anonymous says:

    I am so with you! We are currently “visiting” a church. (I put it in quotes because we have been visiting for months, but it’s still not home.) Anyway, our former church was all over Palm Sunday processions and celebrations. We had Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday services. There was nothing at this new church and I feel so sad and like I and my children are missing out on so much. This may be a deal breaker for me. Maybe we haven’t been able to commit because I need more than this.

  6. 6
    Anonymous says:


    I too have a heart for Palm Branches…a heart that’s been barren for MANY a year!

    There is something wonderful about Palm Sunday….something that makes your very soul want to cry out. Maybe it’s because the rocks would have cried out if some people hadn’t given voice to that urge!

    As a young girl, I attended a small….a VERY small Methodist church. Palm Sunday we ALWAYS sang Hosanna Loud Hosanna….and I can still here it now. I love that song. I wanted to belt it out loud and wave my palm branch furiously.

    I still want to wave that palm branch furiously and one day I bet we’ll get to put those palm branches right before our King’s feet. WHAT A DAY THAT WILL BE!

  7. 7
    Anonymous says:

    Sorry to say but truth be told–as a young girl I HATED Holy Week. I grew up in India and in our church the Good friday service started at around 7 am and ended between 2 and 3 pm. It was all said in a language I did not understand or read(actually had the Syrian language thrown in as our church was Orthodox). It needs to be said that April in India was around 35 to 40 degrees and we certainly had no airconditioning but a few cranky fans churning up the hot air!. The Easter service was maybe a little better–started at 7 am and was done by 11 or so again in unknown tongue to all th kids!.
    But the Lord loves irony I guess–I was wonderfully and awesomely born again in a church in India one Easter morning 24 years ago and I cant wait enough for Easter to come around every year now.

  8. 8
    Glenda says:

    Melissa, After spending many years in several different denominations,almost 15 years ago we joined an Episcopal Church,it is one of the few ultra-conservative,ones in SC and I learned what Palm Sunday was all about.We also gather outside to march in with our branches but also the altar guild makes small crosses out of the palm leaves for each member. I missed that this year because we have moved to another town in SC and are helping a very young church get started and there wasn’t anything like that this year maybe next year.
    I get to spend Easter with my kid sister this year it has been a number of years since that has happened ,we live closer to each other this year and my children are going to in-laws this year.
    I will remember you in my prayers for I too know about those nasty old migraines.
    LOve in Christ,
    Glenda in Walhalla,SC

  9. 9
    Katie says:

    I’m like you, raised Southern Baptist, but rocking the contemporary. Every Easter I ache for “UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE…!”

  10. 10
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa, I loved loved loved this post! I have cried all the way through reading the comments from the Siestas! I too, have been feeling a little nostalgic this week but wasn’t sure why. Our church never had palm branches on Palm Sunday, but I imagine it was a powerful thing to see, especially as a child.
    My favorite Easter memories…
    I come from a pretty big family and our Easter tradition was to go to my “Grandmommy and Granddaddy’s” house after church. We would take pics of each individual family by a pretty dogwood tree in the yard in our Easter best and then take a group pic of the grandparents and the 13 grandkids, of which I am the 2nd oldest. Then we would eat a huge feast of the best food and wait for the adults to hide the eggs in the yard. One adult always had to sit with us to make sure we werent peeking out the windows. 🙂
    As far as church traditions, we always had an Easter cantata and my uncle always sang, “He’s Alive!” in the program. It always made me get chills as it built up to the end, He’s Alive! He’s Alive!
    Thanks for helping me to remember….Happy Easter!

    Rossville, GA

  11. 11
    Hannah says:

    I love your post! I and my sister are the same ages as you and your sister so I too had a quilted Bible carrier. I think what I love most about Easter besides the obvious is that I gave myself to the Lord and was baptized in 1987 in our little church in Sabinal Texas. My dad is a minister and baptized me. So each Easter I celebrate my Jesus’ recurrection but also my real birthday. I so too want to go home and be with my family and hear my dad sing Watch the Lamb, but I’ll be here in Knoxpatch, TN. And well, that’s ok. It’s about Him!

  12. 12
    Becky says:

    I have always liked Palm Sunday too. Maundy Thursday use to be my favorite too but I am not even sure that happens at the church where I grew up any more. Happy Easter!

    P.S. Love the pictures!

  13. 13
    Melissa says:

    Kristie, okay, you’re right- THAT is entering in. For sure. 😉

  14. 14
    Debbie says:

    Your post brought back wonderful memories of my past Easter’s as a little girl with hats, always, always, gloves and new dresses and new shoes with ruffly socks and itchy slips. My brothers always had new sport coats, my favorite year was when they had madras plaid jackets, killer jackets! Always had Easter baskets, that had a Bible, Common Book of Prayer or some sort of religious book in it. We lived on military bases so no real traditions there for Easter except the music is what I remember the most. I love traditions though and making things special.
    I love, love, love Easter music!

    Last year we went to Williamsburg for Spring Break and Easter and worshipped at a Baptist Church Easter morning and they had a cross in the front of the sanctuary where you put fresh flowers on it and then one outside also. They were both so beautiful with the live flowers, a symbol of serving a risen, alive Saviour! That afternoon we attended a service at the oldest Episcopal church, that has been continously used since the year 1710, Bruton Parish. What an honor to take communion and celebrate the resurrection in the same church as some of the founders of our republic.

    I love Easter and I thank you for your post and the memories the pictures brought back for me of my own childhood.

    Praying for you to feel better, get your car fixed and find joy in rendering to Caesar what is his,(working on that one myself).

    Love and Blessings, Debbie in Tennessee

  15. 15
    Michelle says:

    I defionatly did the matching dresses with my twin sis…The big frilly dresses. I can remember those were the times my mom made us wear panty hose and a slip..both of which I hated;)
    I am so excited this year our friends invited us over for a Passover Seder meal. I can’t wait to learn more about that, as I know it all points to Jesus. Glory Glory!

  16. 16
    Kim Safina says:

    The Journey Continues ~

    Oh Melissa,

    You are such a kick in the pants!!
    MY cup runneth over with your words! LOL
    Before I continue, I pray that your migraine has ceased! AMEN!
    Maybe those hats you wore caused brain pain! Just kidding!
    Adorable ~ absolutely Adorable!!!

    My best memories for Easter~
    (my husband buys one for me every year~sometimes they are NOT my choice of dress but I wear them for him!!)I have my sons on either side of my husband and myself in church, praising the KING and singing LOUDLY “UP FROM THE GRAVE HE AROSE” and ” CHRIST THE LORD HAS RISEN TODAY” ~ Baptist church always sings them each year!! 🙂 Now I am singing !!! There is nothing like the sound of a congregation of old and young singing for their GLORIOUS SAVIOR!!!

    I have a few questions I wondered if you and Amanda could answer~
    Beth too!
    1. Do you have Easter baskets?
    2. Do you hunt eggs? ( plastic)
    3. Do you dye eggs?
    4. Do you have a special
    traditional meal at Easter?

    Thanks for sharing!
    With “Heaven Bound” blessings,
    Kim Safina

  17. 17
    Anonymous says:

    Try feverfew for the migraines. It was the only thing that helped me. I took Migraicine which had feverfew in it.

  18. 18
    Living day by day for Jesus says:

    I LOVE the sunrise service!!! It is usually freezing for the sunrise service this time of year in Kentucky…so I pull on blue jeans and a sweatshirt, take a blanket and set out for church only to return an hour later to put on my best Easter Sunday wear!

    This year I am brewing Starbucks for the Sunrise service participants as well as for those who volunteer to park in out overflow parking lot!


  19. 19
    Leelee says:

    After the Maundy Thursday service my mentor will wash people’s feet. I’ve never been and I won’t be able to go tomorrow night, but when she speaks of it, part of me stops in my tracks. Facing betrayal and death, Jesus serves. Jesus washes. Holy, almighty Jesus humbles Himself. It encourages me to serve and to love.

    On a lighter note, I just love seeing all of the little children dressed up. One day I’ll have a few munchkins to show off. Y’all are precious in those pictures.

  20. 20
    Dana N says:

    I love this post! I am a palm branch waving, Tell Me The Stories Of Jesus singing, Palm Sunday girl. Because my husband is a Methodist minister, we move every few years and not all churches have these traditions. We try to encourage those that don’t to embrace them, however. 😉 One of my very favorite things about Holy Week is a Maundy Thursday service. It makes me really think about the WHOLE story..from triumphal entry to the last supper to pain and death to VICTORY on Easter. Hallelujah!

  21. 21
    Sandy in NC says:

    You so verbalized my feelings about missing the palm branches. I grew up in a church where I never heard the gospel, was discouraged from bringing a Bible to church as a teen, & developed a cynicism toward "church". BUT every Palm Sunday they passed out the branches, played "The Palms" on the organ (still love that song & never hear it anymore…I even have the sheet music for it), & made a big deal of it. And I do miss that. However, this year our church did a communion service in the evening that was awesome. They do it a couple of times a year that way, & always do communion the first Sunday of the month. But this one was so amazing: near darkness except for lots of candles at the front at the base of a huge wooden cross & some dim lighting for the praise team; 30 minutes for everyone to come forward whenever they wanted to receive the elements;great praise music as well as hymns;Scripture on the overhead screens; & such a spirit of worship. We sat on the front row & it was so great to see the diversity of people coming: we felt like we were "seeing the world." In spite of the lack of palms, I was SO blessed!

  22. 22
    Vicki Sandifer says:

    I love that you stole the old womans Palm Branch! Cracks me up!!

  23. 23
    Tara says:

    I am so glad that you dug out these pictures! They are priceless. My mom dressed my sister and I up the exact same way…hats and matching floral dresses and all!

    One of my favorite memories about Easter is Resurrection Eggs and decorating our cross cake as a family. Our family also did Easter baskets and my dad always hid them for us to find. As we got older, the places got harder and harder. One year, he hid mine on the ceiling fan! Such fun memories!

    And this year, I am most excited about worshipping the Risen Christ with brothers and sisters in the Lord. Really, is there any better day to worship than to celebrate the resurrection?!? “For if Christ didn’t rise from the dead, our faith would be in vain.”

    Much love and Happy Easter to you!

    PS. I am so sorry about the migraines you are having and about your car. My husband uses duct tape to fix things too; his motto is: “If duct tape doesn’t fix it, you don’t need it.” Hee hee.

  24. 24
    MITZI says:

    I love Good Friday. It has always been so solemn. I remember as a child, I’d be at home and it was always windy every Good Friday or so it seemed as a child. I know this will sound funny and it’s not spiritual but I miss seeing the big tumble weeds rolling in the street on Good Friday. The wind would be rolling all this balls of weeds all over the place. WE lived close to the railroad tracks and there were alot around. I used to laugh so hard when a car had the misfortune of crossing the bath of a tumble weed and that ball would just attach itself to the front bumper of that car. With all the buildings and housing that has gone up since those days in the
    50s I don’t see tumble weeds anymore. I miss um.

  25. 25
    Shannon says:

    The Holy Saturday Easter Vigil. That is IT for me, it is my favorite service, except for maybe Christmas Eve, of the whole year. It starts at like 10 pm, and the whole sanctuary is dark with just one candle, and they read all the texts about sin and death–Ezekiel’s dry bones, and the Israelites in slavery, and the Fall. And everything is very somber, very dark. And then they read the Passion narrative, and then they say, “Let us wait on the Lord.” And you sit there in the dark and wait–cuz it’s Saturday night, see, and you are waiting on the Resurrection–and then you hear one church bell, and then another, and then they are all ringing, and then the church lights go up and the altar is draped in white and gold with lilies everywhere and the priests are wearing their gold vestments and y’all, IT IS THE GREATEST THING EVER. BECAUSE IT IS EASTER. And then the priest says “He is risen” and we respond “He is risen indeed. Allelu, allelu.” And we sing the Easter hymns and the rest of the service is basically an Easter mass.

    I’m not even Episcopalian but for Holy Week I am because my church is not liturgical enough. Get yourself a cheater church, Melissa. That is what I call the Episcopal church that I “cheat” on my evangelical home church with when I need a little liturgy and mystery in my life. Oh, cheater church. I am flying home to Houston just to be with you this weekend.

  26. 26
    Lisa says:

    In our church when my boys were small, everyone brought bells – some have BIG ones and some have tiny ones. All through the service when ever the pastor would say, “He lives!” we would ring the bells. So cool and my kids loved it! They really listened to the message that day!

  27. 27
    Anonymous says:

    My favorite thing about Easter has always been the special choir singing, especially in my church (where I’ve been for about 10 years). Our choir completely rocks!! And, for the record next year, our church (Mt. Paran COG in ATL) uses palms on Palm Sunday every year. I had never seen that before starting there and I LOVE it!
    Have a fantastic Easter

  28. 28
    Lynn says:

    Oh Melissa – this has been so fun! I love Holy Week. In the Catholic Church – which usually has high liturgy- we pull out all
    the stops for Holy Week!

    Palm Sunday – Mass with palm procession and reading of the whole Passion.

    Holy Thursday – Mass with washing of the feet. And then great silence as we mark the time Jesus was held captive before his crucifixtion.

    Good Friday – Commemoration of the Lord’s death – we have a special service to reverence the Cross of Christ.

    Easter Vigil (either Sat night or very early Sunday morning) – this is the most awesome of all. We bless the new fire symbolizing the light of Christ and we bless water to remind of us of our baptism into Christ’s death and sharing in His resurecction. And we read 8 Scripture passages with Psalms sung in between to remember our salvation history and then we commemorate the Lord’s supper. It is so beautiful and joyful.
    Ours at the convent begins at 4:30 this Sunday! Wish you could be here!

    Have a blessed and glorious Easter!
    Sister Lynn

  29. 29
    glorysuzy says:

    No church I have ever gone to has done the palms. And that is strange since I lived in a very small town with very small country churchs.

    Lately, I have been trying to study more about the Feast and I bought a CD that a Jewish Christian had made describing the rituals with included the Passover Week. He descibed the things that the family did to get ready for Passover and then he went into detail of what was happening at the temple.

    Let me say, that this man is so fortuate to be what I have heard Beth call a “complete” Christian. He understands things about what was happening that week with Christ that most of us do not understand. When he described the scene of the Passover lamb being brought in by the priests one side of the the Temple and then what was happening as Christ the sacrifical lamb coming in on the east side of the temple, waving the palms and singing hosanna I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitment.

    God had planned this all along when He set up the ritual for the Passover and in this event Christ was the last sacraficial lamb. Praise be to God! I am so excited as this Holy Week is in progress and I have come to know even more how much my God loves me.

    Plus tomorrow night, our church is serving a passover meal and I can’t wait to participate in that.

    Have a blessed Easter!

  30. 30
    Lauren Kelly says:

    TOO SWEET Melissa! LOVED the pics, haha!!! :o)

  31. 31
    Anonymous says:

    We combine my mom’s Russian Orthodox traditions (special Easter bread, the egg cracking like the Greek’s, saying Christ is Risen, He is Risen indeed!) with the American sunrise service, etc. I think the orthodox traditions really make the day richer. Sort of like your Palm branches…it helps us enter in to the experience!
    Tremont, Illinois

  32. 32
    Melissa S. says:

    I love the Good Friday service…solemn, thought provoking. At the end everyone files out silently dropping a large nail into a bucket on their way out (oh, that sound is effective!) Then the glorious processional on Easter morning-proclaming the risen King! New banners held high, dancers before and after them, gorgeous swelling music, palm branches waving–all very majestic and uplifting to convey the GOOD NEWS!

  33. 33
    Kim says:

    I so love your entry! I, too, am from First Baptist Houston (can’t quite bring myself to say “Houston’s First Baptist Church” – not sure why it matters to me!) Anyway, I am a bit nostalgia for those days when the choir would come down the aisles. What wonderful memories. I wish all churches could wave the palm branches on Palm Sunday!

    I love the Good Friday services at our awesome church. It seems I’m working all week mentally preparing for the festivities of the coming Easter weekend like dying eggs, buying Easter candy, making the baskets, baking cookies with the kids – all great stuff, but then, Friday comes and WOW I remember all over again that we have a God of second chances. A God that loves us all so very much HE sent HIS HOLY SON to this earth to die for our sins.

    I sit in awe of His majesty and wish we could have Palm Sunday and Good Friday every week!

    Happy Easter to all of you Siestas!


  34. 34
    Leslie Young says:

    I’m a happy little Baptist of almost 30 years, but I was raised Catholic and oh, I miss being Catholic at Easter time. I loved the extra services — Palm Sunday (with palms that were blessed and taken home, tucked in a picture frame where it remained all year); Maundy Thursday, the Stations of the Cross; the incense, Good Friday and Easter Sunday. I learned to love Jesus there. I look forward to attending Good Friday Mass with my mom this week!

  35. 35
    JayCee says:

    We use palm branches in our services every Palm Sunday, so you just come on to St. Louis next year for Palm Sunday….we will do it up right! (We have a traditional and a contemporary service and you can wave palm branches in both!!:)

  36. 36
    Kari says:

    For me there is nothing like waking up on Easter morning – nothing compares to the feeling I have every Easter morning knowing that Christ MY SAVIOR has risen!! AWESOME!

    As for holy week traditions… the children in our church always sing a couple praise songs while waving palm branches!

  37. 37
    Jennifer says:

    Thank you for this great post Melissa! I’d invite you to read about my unique palm Sunday with my sick child. (Unable to go to church we made our palm out of paper!)

  38. 38
    JayCee says:

    Oh, and I forgot to write my favorite part of Holy Week – it is Good Friday because every year (for over 10 years now) our church re-enacts the Crucifixion on our church front lawn. We have 3 men on crosses (no they are not really nailed), we have women “mourning” and Roman Soldiers and the whole bit. We get many responses from the community. Some people are moved to tears when they see it. Some people stand in awe. One little girl brought a flower to place at the foot of the cross. Some people driving by yell obscenities from their cars; some people call the church and complain or call the authorities. I imagine Jesus experienced all different kinds of reactions from people. The one reaction that always strikes me as odd is that some people stand a ways back from the cross and are talking to their friends/family about what they are going to do the next day. I wonder if Jesus heard anything like that – he is dying for the sins of the world and people are laughing and talking about what they are going to do the next day. Anyway, for that reason and so much more Good Friday is one of my favorite days of the year. Thank You, Jesus!

  39. 39
    Anonymous says:

    I too attend a contemporary church right now. I love the singing and worship. But Sunday, you wouldn’t have known Easter was a week away.
    When I growing up, I loved getting the new dress, shoes and lacy socks. The hat and gloves were also fun. We had palms and children carried them in and waved them in the air. Adults waved them from the pews. I also loved the Maunday Thursday and Good Friday Service where we left the sanctuary in total darkness. We entered Easter Sunday in the dark with the crucifixion story being read. The cross had a black cloth hanging in it. It was really high. Then as the story was read and the tomb was found empty, with tympanies pounding, the lights came on and the black cloth slid down a fishing line and the whole congregation burst into the hymm Jesus Christ is Risen Today! It was a really beautiful service. My favorite Easter service I have ever attended.

  40. 40
    Kimber says:

    I love, love, love Holy Week services in the Episcopal church. I grew up in an non-denominational mega church and my small town Episocpal church does Holy Week right (in my opinion). We walk in with Palm branches on Palm Sunday, but before it’s over we’ve read the entire Passion from the one of the Gospels (different each year) and we (the congregation) have to read the “crucify Him” parts. Brings me to tears every time. From heralded as the King of Kings to crucified between two thieves. Oh, and we keep our palm branches and just before Ash Wednesday next year, we return them to our Rector who burns them to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday — cool, huh? The stripping of our church on Maundy Thursday will take your breath away. We have a service going through The Stations of the Cross each day of Holy Week. Really, really, really amazing, if I do say so myself. Blessings to you this Holy Week.

  41. 41
    Anonymous says:

    Hi Melissa,
    Thank you for this entry and for asking what we love about Holy week. This Palm Sunday, my almost 3 year old grandaughter, Ashley came in the service with all of the other adorable pre-schoolers, holding a palm branch in the shape of a cross…I can’t tell you what that did in my heart. God is so good! I love the anticipation of Easter morning and the excitement the resurrection of our Lord and Savior celebrated that day! Just slays me every year!

    Ruined for Him,
    Joni Leahy

  42. 42
    Honea Household says:

    My dad is a minister of music so I’ve waved many palm branches in my life time. My dad was all about it growing up. And I loved it, just like you! We now go to a very contemporary church (different one from my dad who is still a minister of music at a traditional church) and they don’t really even hardly mention Palm Sunday. It makes me really sad! My dad still does though, which I think is way cool.

    I grew up on the mission field in the Philippines and I remember one Palm Sunday, we stayed home from church for some reason. Anyway, my mom read the Bible story of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey and the crowd waving palm branches. As she read, my 3 younger sisters and I acted out the story. My dad was the donkey and we took turns being Jesus, riding on his back. It was great fun!

  43. 43
    Anonymous says:

    Melissa, I loved your post. We love our church, it is contemporary and your writing reminded me of all of the Palm Sundays and Easters that I’ve had in my life growing up. I miss them, too. I know that the “seeker friendly churches” want to relate to everyday people, but I miss the times leading up to those two Sundays, the messages, the literal goosebumps as Christ is celebrated,appreciated and adored. And the music — the cantatas (some may not know what those are 🙂 ) but the music was always so majestic and full of life–His life. There is nothing like the reverance and awe of thinking through His gift with message, Scripture and music, what God did in giving His Son, and what the Son endured so that on Easter, we could say “He is Risen” and know Him as our Saviour. Praise God!
    Happy Easter to all of you siestas!

  44. 44
    Anonymous says:

    Oh, hilarious! If we knew each other, I know we’d be best friends. I am always talking to my computer screen when I read your entries, as if you can hear me! So, my Southern Baptist roots leave me longing for those ol’ time things of days past too – white patent leather shoes – LOVED them! Scuffed up many a pair. And we always had corsages on Easter Sunday. I loved going to the Florist to pick out mine with my mom – and I smelled it til it fell apart. New dresses, and a purse! I am not a morning person at all, but I always loved the Sunrise Services on Easter Sunday – imagining what it must have been like to see that empty tomb!

    Hang in there, girlfriend. I will pray for your headaches and homesickness. (is that a real word?)

  45. 45
    Jo says:

    Oh Melissa,

    I LOVED your post! Tons of great memories flooded back. Yep, the white straw hats with that elastic string that was always too tight under your chin; white patent leather shoes that were worn with white frilly socks (of course!), and my favorite: short white gloves that I would obsessively straighten making sure the seam was worn at the tip of each fingertip as I sat NOT listening to the sermon. Ah… good times!

    I was raised Catholic so we too had palm branches, but I smile now as I remember I never knew what to do with them months after Easter. I mean they were holy right? (Okay, crispy by that point, but holy!) I never knew if I’d be sinning if I threw them away, so I’d do what any other child concerned with holiness would do: Leave it out so someone else would throw it away and pay the “penalty.” (Don’t worry, I’ve since done “Breaking Free.” Whew!)

    My mom, who is with Jesus now, made Easter really special for us. This has already been a special Easter week – these memories just made it even better.

    Thanks for sharing Melissa! May you have a migraine-free, blessed Easter!

  46. 46
    Mary Bess says:

    The only Easter tradition that has lasted for me has been the special dress. In fact, I remember asking Mama one year what we were wearing the next day (it was Saturday and by then I was starting to get worried) and how devastated I was when she said that she hadn’t thought we kids would want to were anything special or matching. Was she kidding! I was the oldest and if I wasn’t too cool to dress up especially on Easter, then the boys and baby sister weren’t. She said she was sorry, but she just hadn’t bought anything new and it was too late.

    How precious it was that night when I went to her room to say goodnight and I saw her laying out the most perfect pink fabric for a new dress–wide collar with lace, puffed sleeves, and even a pleated skirt. I’ll always treasure that memory of Mama affirming my need to mark the day with a special outfit.

    I still love this tradition, but only today did I realize just why it was so important to me. See, two years ago, God began wooing me very dramatically through nature and tangible outpourings of His affection. I began to view Sunday morning worship services as our special dates…yes, we lived together and met throughout the week, but Sunday was a special time to meet Him by particular invitation.

    Similarly, the lenten season and Easter have recently been especially marked by gifts that could only have come from Him–flowers that were not supposed to bloom appearing early, special financial support just when I was contemplating a special desire, not just a need, etc. Today, I remembered that this season also coincides with the season when I first accepted his gift of grace.

    This may sound silly, but I truly believe that God is romantic, especially when He is my only bridegroom. And dressing up, well, it’s not just a frivolous tradition. Easter Sunday was the day I was baptized, and the night when I first got to participate in communion, and I dress up for it each year as if it were a long-anticipated anniversary date! Isn’t wondrous that we can know that the King pursues our hearts so personally and intimately?!? Yes I want my heart and mind to be prepared for worship, but surely, when I also honor Him with my dress, He accepts it also as the act of respect and honor I mean it as. I never want to do less for Him than I would for man.
    PS. so sorry it’s so long

  47. 47
    Sherri says:

    This isn’t spiritual at all, but what I remember about Easters growing up (in the 70s) is that my pastor, Adrian Rogers, would wear a white suit. And this may be a figment of my imagination, but I THINK he also wore white patent leather loafers…

    I also remember singing “Up From the Grave He Arose” as only our minister of music, Tommy Lane, could lead it!

  48. 48
    Anonymous says:

    I love Palm Sunday too! We don’t have palm branches for everyone every single year (did you know they are pretty expensive? my husband is a pastor so I do know how much they cost!) but when we do I love to give the Lord a wave offering!! 🙂
    Easter week/ Holy Week is special to our family. Not to focus on the outward, but I have always loved getting new clothes for Easter Sunday. I just feel like it is a celebration and I want to offer something fresh and pretty to the Lord! Now as a mother I enjoy dressing my children up also. It is a fun day at church, looking at all of the sweet children in their outfits, taking pictures, eating ham and all the fixings for lunch with family, etc. But most of all, I think I enjoy the music that we learn each year. The message is always the same but we do something new every Easter Sunday.

  49. 49
    Anonymous says:

    No Palms on Sunday…but Wednesday (tonight) at Church had worship with Travis Cottrell … I feel like Easter has come early…Holy Ground for sure. What an extreme blessing!!! Jesus could come tonight and that would be fine with me. I am so excited for Easter…more than in past years…His coming is soon, sweet Jesus come quickly.

  50. 50
    Northern Lights says:

    I love Palm Sunday – and I was having a migraine all weekend too. But I hauled myself out of bed for the Palm Sunday procession. Seriously, I went to church for 10 minutes (it’s only a 5 minute drive from our house).

    At our church it’s the children who enter the sanctuary waving palm branches. (They are plastic palm branches, mind you – we still have some snow left here – but its the thought that counts.) The kids sing a couple of songs and then march back out. It is entirely precious and since I had a 5 and 3 year old in the parade there was no migraine going to keep me away.

    That is one of my favorite parts about Easter. I love it because it is so cute, but also because it is something so special to them that I just know it makes the Easter story a bit more real to their little hearts. Kids love to be actively engaged in something…acting out a story. And I’m so glad they have that opportunity.

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