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Eternal Perspectives: Palms for Praising

Eternal Perspectives by Sally Bair

Palms for Praising

My property is filled with cedar trees. They emit a fragrance that draws animals and humans alike. High in vitamin C, cedar leaves and bark, used in tea, saved the crew of explorer Jacques Cartier from scurvy. Its twigs hold oil that is distilled for medicinal use. In the year 1558, it was named "arborvitae," the tree of life. The cedar branches remind me of fingers spread out, offering themselves to the deer who nibble on them and to their Creator who gave them such beauty.

Another tree, the beautiful palm with its sturdy leafstalk, also spreads its large leaves, or fronds, in much the same way.

This Sunday is Palm Sunday, a day celebrated by Christians worldwide in remembrance of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem before his death. The people took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel! John 12:13

The palm branch symbolizes several things. The book of Isaiah refers it to the highest of the people. Later, it was connected with the idea of triumph and victory. The Jewish people use it in their Feast of Tabernacles as a banner with which to rejoice before God. The word Hosanna originally was uttered as a prayer asking for God's help. Later in Jewish history, it became a cry of joy or a shout of welcome. The word also was associated with hope for deliverance of the Jewish people. When Jesus rode into town on a lowly donkey, however, he came not as a conquering military deliverer that the people expected but as a spiritual deliverer.

In many churches today, hosannas are sung and palm branches are held high in praise and victory to Jesus Christ, the King of kings. Although the symbolism is good, we don't have to wave palm branches to praise God. We can use our own palms—those on our hands—in praising God. Or we can simply praise him with our spirit, as Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 14:16. Or we can sit in a vehicle or walk in a park. We can praise the Lord for his goodness and mercies anytime and anywhere.

Lord, you alone are worthy of praise. Give us such a love for you that we cannot help but express praise for your son, Jesus, who took our sins upon himself so that we might have eternal life. Amen.

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