Palm Sunday opens Holy Week with virus-changed ceremonies

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The Rev. Luis Mejia, right, and Deacon Dennis Patrick lead Palm Sunday services online during the 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic.

Palm Sunday services were celebrated online among most Christian communities this year in an effort to suppress the spread of the novel coronavirus now decimating the human population of the world.

At St. Patrick Catholic Church in Perry, the Rev. Luis Mejia, Deacon Dennis Patrick and parishioner Gary Becker distributed palm branches in a drive-through ceremony following the 4:30 p.m. Mass Saturday.

The Perry Ministerial Association led a Palm Sunday parade of vehicles Sunday morning.

Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week. It is sometimes called Passion Sunday and recalls the triumphant entry into Jerusalem of Jesus Christ. By the end of the week, Christ had been arrested, tortured and executed.

The liturgy included readings from the 50th chapter of Isaiah, which reads in part:

I gave my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who plucked my beard;
my face I did not shield
from buffets and spitting. 

The letter of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians was read, which includes the statement:

He emptied himself.

The Greek word kenosis is translated as “emptied himself” in the passage, and the notion of Christ’s self-emptying has given rise to much commentary among Bible scholars.

Palm Sunday’s gospel was drawn from the 26th and 27th chapters of Matthew and includes the harrowing scene of the agony in the garden on Holy Thursday and the pathetic final words of Christ on the cross on Good Friday:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The passion of Christ illustrates, among many other things, the great changeableness of fortune. Within a few days, one can go from the heights of popularity, with ratings as high as a finale of the Bachelor, to the depths of despair, hated and reviled by the same people who sang hosannas before.

The stained glass window at Grimes First Presbyterian Church portrays the agony in the garden, which followed the last supper on Holy Thursday.

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