What is the Blessing of the Palms?
An area church has invited other nearby churches to participate in a joint Palm Sunday service for the “Blessing of the Palms.”
That phrase in an unfamiliar one to me, but with over 4 million exact matches of Google, it is likely known to many within the Christian community. (If you are perplexed by this like I am, some quick research—Wikipedia notwithstanding—indicates that the “Blessing of the Palms” is a liturgy often used on Palm Sunday.)
Whenever I encounter a church practice I see if I can connect it directly with what I find either prescribed or described in the Bible. This is not to imply that everything that lacks a direct biblical connection is wrong, but it is a reason to proceed carefully.
Though Palm Sunday is a remembrance directly related to Jesus’ celebratory procession into Jerusalem, just days before his execution (Good Friday) and resurrection (Easter), there is nary a biblical indication of any blessing being afforded to palm fronds. Again, this is not a reason to disregard the practice, but it is a sign to carefully consider its relevance.
While, the “Blessing of the Palms” is a foreign concept to me, to others it is normative. This causes me to contemplate the opposite. How many practices that are normative to me, give others pause?
May we all carefully consider the things that comprise our faith practices, embracing the relevant and dismissing the rest.
Have you ever participated in a Blessing of the Palms?
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical spirituality to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.