for one week every year i become liturgical. i go to five different services and experience foot-washing, fourteen stations of artwork, candlelight, and a sunrise. but it all begins with palm branches.
last year it was hard for me to be in kenya during Holy Week. the western evangelical church has so influenced christianity in kenya that no-one even knew what Holy Week was. when i proclaimed excitedly to everyone at veronica house that we would be with them for palm sunday, all i got were blank faces.
the night before palm sunday mark kamondi said with a big smile, So, you're preaching for us tomorrow! he loves to joke, so i laughed and quipped something back and didn't think any more about it. (the whole family at veronica home along with girls from the neema project meet together each sunday for their own church service.) the next morning, 15 minutes before the service started, mark said to me again, So you're preaching for us! You're serious?!, i said.
he was indeed serious.
i grabbed my bible and flipped to the passage where Jesus comes into jerusalem on a donkey, the joyous beginning to a most dreadful week. i found out the word for donkey in swahili - punda - and suddenly i had a sunday school lesson. we talked about the punda and what kind of animal it is, which was so much more poignant in kenya, where we see donkeys pulling carts everywhere. we talked about why a great man like Jesus would choose such a lowly animal as a punda as His way to make an entrance. i taught them the song, "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the highest!", which was what the crowds called out as Jesus passed by.
we had quickly asked the farmer next door to cut off branches from his banana trees and i passed them out and we had a lively procession around the yard waving branches and singing. i don't know what everyone in the veronica family thought of the whole thing, but it was definitely the most lovely palm sunday service i have ever been part of.