For this week’s Worship Wednesday, Jennifer shares her reflections on how bending palm fronds into crosses reminds her of how God is constantly bending us to become more like Jesus.

Reflection on Palm Fronds

Holy Week, the time between Palm Sunday and Easter, came and went and I almost missed it. It is a time for reflection and preparation. Yet, for so many years, it sneaks up on me and I forget to take time to reflect, ponder, and prepare.

As a military family, we attend the chapel’s “contemporary” service. That means we have a
drummer and guitar player… Shocking! We have people who move in the pews (swaying to the
music, or raising their hands, or clapping). We also have some parts of the service that are more
traditional like palm branches on Palm Sunday.

I love Palm Sunday for so many reasons. One of my favorite things is watching kids hit each
other with the palms or make them into “guns” to shoot their siblings. I know viewing
parents trying to separate dueling siblings as a spectator sport is bad, but it is enjoyable. I lived
that life–having fronds poked in my eyes or having kids crying because they were touched by
their sister’s frond–for over 20 years. To keep my sanity, I learned how to bend fronds into the
shape of a cross.

During deployments, I used the crosses to teach my children about Holy week. Now I help the
next generation of stressed-out parents by demonstrating to the children how to fold the palm
frond into the shape of the cross. Bending takes time but each crease is important. Each step in
the process is critical. If you miss a step, the frond springs out of the shape of the cross. The
frond wants to spring back into its old shape. It wants to be long and thin, not folded into a cross.

Isn’t that like us?

We want to remain just the way we are but God wants us to bend, to change, to
become more like Jesus. The journey Jesus makes toward the cross is what Holy Week is all
about. Jesus moved from being praised by thousands to the cross where he was mocked by many
of those same people. His steps started well before Palm Sunday, but continued to the Cross and
culminated on an Easter Sunrise when death was defeated.

The palm fronds remind us of Jesus riding in on a donkey and people worshiping him like a
conquering king. Then only four short days later he is betrayed. He is hung on the cross on Good
Friday. Taking the frond and bending it into the shape of the cross reminds us that his focus was
on the cross not the praise of men.

Holy week is a time of preparation for Christ’s resurrection, just as Advent is the time of
preparation for Christ’s birth. God reminds the church of all that he promised. He promised us
eternal life with him when we accept Christ as our savior.

Bending and Becoming

Jesus focused on following God and doing what was needed to bring us out of death and into
life. He is our only hope. His steps toward the cross all lead to new life and hope. Thankfully our
Lord and Savior knows we will not be perfect. Unlike when I bend the frond wrong and it pops
out of shape, when we make mistakes God forgives us. We learn, grow, and bend to become the
followers God wants us to be.

As I take time now to reflect and ponder, I am listening to several songs that are new hymns.
One of them is “Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” which reminds me of the basics of my
faith and is one that I imagine singing to Christ in heaven. Enjoy.

Jennifer Wake

Christ Our Hope in Life and Death” by Keith & Kristyn Getty, Matt Pap