Palm Sunday during my Childhood and Now!

During my childhood and even now, Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday remain the two beginning landmark celebrations observed during the lent season. While Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of the Lent season, Palm Sunday marked the beginning of the Holy Week, the last week of Easter. The difference though was that my childhood church, Cherubim and Seraphim​, did not celebrate Ash Wednesday. It was for Roman Catholics, we were told! As for Palm Sunday, it was for all.

Among the Igbo ethnic group of West Africa where I grew up, Palm Sunday was huge! Lots of processions. Just as the Catholics also did, we would line up behind a cross carrying young man, usually the rank of a Salvation Army.

This not the same as the Salvation Army in the US. Salvation Army in my childhood church was a ministry position like the Ushers but with responsibility for maintaining order during church services or events. They often marched like soldiers and regulated movements during processions. The Salvation Army was the least rank amongst the ordained leaders of my childhood church, often occupied by youth. I was hoping to be a Salvation Army until the leaders started marrying multiple wives. At that point I stopped attending church altogether. Praise God for chasing me down 13 years after and saving me! So, the Salvation Army would lead the procession, followed by the young kids and youth, then the choir with the drummers and musicians, then the women according to their ranks and finally, the men in ascending order of their ranks.

We would march round the village with songs of praise, dancing to the rhythm of the drums, and giving glory to God. It was a blessed fun! Pure fun and praise! Perhaps, someday, I will teach my American friends how to dance in church. Since there will be dance in heaven, a little practice here would not hurt either! Singing and dancing was not all we did. Like the crowd in Jerusalem, we waved our palm branches. We laid the palm fronts down for Jesus as we sang:

“ Ride on, ride on in majesty; hark, all the tribes Hosanna cry.

O Savior meek, pursue thy road with palms and scattered garments strewed.”

Over the years, not much has changed with the processions in Nigeria. The churches, however, are getting more creative in decorating their worship spaces with palm leaves.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rev Joshua Amaezechi, an ordained Minister in the Christian Reformed Church of North America (CRCNA), serving as the President of the LEMA Institute/ LEMA Theological Seminary. He worked formerly as the Lead Chaplain at the Kalamazoo County Jail, Michigan.

The opinions and comments expressed in this blog are exclusively that of the author. The LEMA Institute or its Board and faculty is not responsible for any aspects of the information supplied by the blogger.

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