Palm Sunday is a big deal in the church I serve. As the congregation sings “All Glory, Laud and Honor,” the children—from infants in parents’ arms to wiggly six-year-olds to uncomfortable adolescents—parade down the center aisle and fill the chancel, waving palms. It’s a reminder that there are more children and families living in the center city than you might expect. It’s also a reminder that the Christian family embraces young and old and everyone in between. And, of course, the children are gorgeous. Usually I can see more than a few parents and grandparents daubing their eyes with Kleenex.
You could say that the ceremony sentimentalizes a complex and tragic event. Writes William Stringfellow in Free in Obedience: “The real witness of Palm Sunday is not the parade or what the disciples or the secular authorities saw; it is the encounter between Christ and the power of death.”