March 25, 2015: Grown-Ups Who Turn on Each Other Are Scary

Posted on : Mar 26th, 2015 | By | Category: Still Speaking

This coming Sunday is Palm Sunday. It’s a joyous, fun, festive day.   A lot of churches, our included, will be giving worshippers Palm branches. Some churches give out long, thin palm branches.   We use wider branches which are more like “mini-palm fronds.”

Lillian Daniel’s church obviously used the long thin branches, which is risky, especially when given to kids. The ensuing chaos during the children’s sermon is a perfect example of what happened on that fist Palm Sunday and why one needs to be very careful when doing “children’s sermons.” Yet amid the chaos, there is a good message in this (which is what Palm Sunday is all about) –enjoy!

Lenten Blessings,




Palm Sunday

Lillian Daniel

Excerpt from Matthew 21:1-11

“A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of our God! Hosanna in the highest heaven!'”

One Palm Sunday early in my ministry, the children were all at the front of the church for a children’s sermon being given by my colleague. His words were thoughtful and well-planned. There was only one, small problem. The children had all been given their palms before coming forward. So no matter what the minister talked about, they had something much more interesting in their hands: a sword.

First one little boy thrust his palm frond into the head of another, who cried out with a loud, “Ouch, what was that?” Then he decided to try out his palm frond on the girl next to him. She shrieked, at first in shock and then in delight. Why didn’t they get these neat swords every Sunday?

Soon, every kid seemed to be either dodging or stabbing a palm into another kid’s eye, all while the pastor spoke to them about Christ’s never-ending love and kindness.

It was a microcosm of the real Palm Sunday story. A leader enters in triumph but the people are fickle. They turn on him, and then upon one another. One minute Jesus is the object of their cries of admiration, the next they are crying “Crucify him.”

Children poking each other with palms in church are kind of funny. Especially when you’re not the pastor giving the children’s sermon that day.

But grown-ups who turn on each other without a second thought are scary. Beware of the crowds that get whipped up in praise and adoration, for they could just as quickly get whipped up in hatred and cruelty. That’s what happened on Palm Sunday to Jesus, and it could happen anywhere on earth today.

There’s a neat trick to folding the palm fronds in just the right way so that they become crosses. Let’s turn our palms into crosses so we won’t be tempted to use them as swords.

Hosanna in the highest heaven.  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of our God.  Amen.


About the Author
Lillian Daniel is the senior minister of the First Congregational Church, UCC, Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She is the author, with Martin Copenhaver, of This Odd and Wondrous Calling: the Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers.

Leave a Reply