Historic Trinity

Palm Sunday
is the Sunday before Easter. It commemorates the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem, when the populace spread palm branches in His path to welcome Him. Palm Sunday begins the "Holy Week," or the "Great Week," the latter name being explained by Chrysostom as referring the "the great things wrought at this time by the Lord." Palm Sunday owes its name to fourth-century observances in Jerusalem, where on this day the faithful assembled on the Mount of Olives and from there went in procession to the city, carrying palm and olive branches and singing, while the bishop rode in their midst sitting on a donkey. Similarly, other events in the days preceding the crucifixion were dramatized in the later service of Holy Week. It was not until the sixth century that services in the West included a procession with palms. The present Roman office of blessing that palms which precedes the Mass for the day dates only from the ninth century. In the Early Church the candidates for baptism and confirmation were again taught the Creed. This fact gives some justification for the administration of confirmation on this day. Appropriate Palm Sunday Services are held in most Christian churches. In Roman Catholic, and some Lutheran, churches palms are blessed and carried in procession. The faithful are asked to take the palm home and display it an appropriate location in their home as a reminder that Christ enters into their life daily. Then, on Ash Wednesday these palms are burned, and the ashes are used to be place on the forehead of the faithful. In the Greek Orthodox churches there is no procession, but the palms are blessed while held by the worshippers. The palm early became a symbol of victory.

Date Palms


The palm tree and palm leaves referred to in the Bible are the date palm. Solomon and Jeremiah used the palm tree to symbolize straight stature, and they referred to the City of Jericho as "the City of Palm Trees." The palm tree was considered in Biblical times as a princely tree and was used as a symbol of victory and well-being and also as temple decoration. Palm trees were used in the carved decorations of the temple, usually associated with Cherubims, lions, and open flowers. The palm tree was considered holy in Babylon and later was sacred to the Greek god Apollo. The palm found another meaning; The oasis of the desert was a welcome stop for both camel and traveler who first sighted the waving palm tops in the distance. Psalms provided food and shade; the oasis, water. So palm branches become the symbol of welcome, public homage, and journey's end. Among, both the Romans and the Jews the palm was carried in joyful or triumphant processions. In 293 B.C. victorious Roman soldiers bore palm branches when parading in Rome; and the palm was given as a victory emblem at public games. Palm branches were the conventional symbol of public approval and welcome by eastern people to conquering heroes, and were strewn and carried in triumphal processions. Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem when the people strew palm branches in His path and greeted Him with Hosannas (John 12: 12-13), became a liturgical function on Palm Sunday in the 4th century. But already the palm was connected with martyrdom (Apoc 7.9) and was used to decorate grave markers and tombs in the catacombs as a sign of the triumphant death of the martyr. On mosaics and on sarcophagi it usually stands for paradise, and Christ is frequently portrayed amid palms in heaven. So also in early church art, the Lamb of God and the Apostles are depicted amid palms. The palm tree was embossed on ancient Hebrew coins, and the Romans celebrated the conquest of Judea by issuing a new coinage, still retaining the palm tree, but with an added inscription announcing the victory. Since the early days of the Christian Church, the palm blessed at Mass on Palm Sunday is carried home by the faithful as a symbol of Christ's presence among them. Before Ash Wednesday the blessed palm is burned, and its residue is used in the distribution of ashes as a symbol of penance during Lent.

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Historic Trinity Lutheran Church
1345 Gratiot Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48207
Phone: (313) 567-3100
Fax: (313) 567-3209
Email: Historic Trinity

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