What is in a Palm Branch?
Why pass out palm branches to children? Is it just a “fun,” “interesting” novelty to them? After all, there sure aren’t palm branches in Minnesota! What is in a palm branch anyway?
What is in a palm branch is opportunity. Palm Sunday celebrates the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem. Palm branches and cloaks were thrown into his path and hosannas were shouted for joy. As a reminder of this joyful reception of Jesus, we pass out palm branches to the children in hopes that they too will joyfully receive Jesus.
Let me share with you an old memory. When my older daughter was 3 years old she received a palm branch in Sunday School. As an adopted child born in Ecuador, she had just gotten her American citizenship a week earlier and was given a little American flag. She came home with her palm branch after hearing the story of the Triumphal Entry and all week danced around the house, singing praise songs, and waving her palm branch. One day she stopped in the middle of her dancing, singing, and palm branch waving and remarked, “If I would be happy about Jesus dying on the cross, I would wave a flag—an American flag—and I would sing, ‘Hosanna’ to the real King!”
This memory is fried in my mind. What I saw was worship. And this is the opportunity a palm branch provides—a simple way to encourage children to worship the real King.
Here are a few suggestions on how you can take advantage of the opportunities present in this symbol of the triumphal entry:
• Review the story of the Triumphal Entry (Luke 19:29–40, Matthew 21:1–11). Talk about the kind of king Jesus is. Discuss the difference between true worship and false worship and why Jesus is worthy of our deepest worship. Look at Luke 19:40 and what it tells us about Jesus. Display the palm branch as a reminder that Jesus is worthy of our praise and remind your child of this often.
• Play worship songs and praise God together using the palm branch as an expression of joyful movement and an encouragement to participate with your whole self.
• Encourage your child to make up his own praise song. What would he shout and sing if Jesus were to return today? In anticipation of Jesus’ second Triumphal Entry at the end of the age, encourage your child to wave his palm branch and sing his own song of praise.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Be creative. Ask God to help you to lead your child to see that He is worthy of our greatest worship. Jesus is the real King!
May you joyfully embrace the Savior this Easter,
Minister for Resources and Program Development