Saturday, March 23, 2013

Palm Sunday in the Holy Land

Palm Sunday is one of my favorite Sundays of the year!  I have always liked Easter time, but after spending the Easter season in the Holy Land a few years ago I absolutely love Easter!  Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are two of the busiest days of the year in Jerusalem.  Many people from all over the world make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for easter and everyone is super happy to be in the Holy Land celebrating the Saviour's Atonement, Death, and Resurrection.

Some of the activities of the week include the Palm Sunday Procession, taking part in a Passover Seder to see what the Last Supper would have been like, watching processions on Good Friday down the Via Dolorosa, and then on Easter Sunday visiting the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and attending a Mass or two along the way.  Visiting the Garden Tomb on Easter Sunday morning and attending an Easter Service there is also a must see.  Sometime in the week it's also great to visit one of the traditional sites of the Upper Room where Jesus appeared to his apostles after His resurrection.  I'll post more about Easter Sunday next week, and for now stick with a few pictures of the Palm Sunday Procession that I took part in.

The Palm Sunday usually begins at Bethphage (across the Kidron Valley, this is the town/area where Jesus told his disciples where and how to obtain a donkey) and goes through several streets, then down the Kidron and into the Old City entering through St. Stephen's Gate.  Just inside the gate you then turn to the right and end up in the Church of St. Anne (one of my favorite churched in Jerusalem.... It has the BEST acoustics for singing in!).  

I don't know an exact number, but I would guess anywhere from 10,000 to 15,000 people were involved in the procession.  There were tons of people with extra palm fronds and I carried one for a bit before giving it to someone else.  I have never been surrounded by so many people of so many different denominations, but who all shared a common belief and joy in the Saviour.  The faithful, happy mood was infectious!  Some friend and I joined a group of Coptic Christians from Egypt for a part of the walk, and even tho we couldn't understand each other, they tried to teach us their joyful song and laughed with us when we totally slaughtered the words.  They also tried to teach us how to make that wailing yulation (no idea how to spell that, google isn't helping..) noise that they make by crying out while flipping their tongue from side to side...  They couldn't stop laughing at our attempts, but I think I got it down pretty good.

I'm pretty sure these wonderful people with the red hats were the Coptic group from Egypt.  I'm not sure tho, I just remember the Egyptians had sweet red hats.

We joined several other groups, from born-agains to Greek Orthodox types.  It was wonderful to join in with the songs we knew, or try to learn other ones, and just generally celebrate the triumphal entry of our Lord!

I definitely need to go back to the Holy Land at Easter time again, and highly recommend it!  It's probably one of the most hectic and expensive times to go, but it is totally worth it!

We climbed up on a wall to get a better view of the crowd as it passed by, and just sat up there for 10 or 15 minutes watching the mass of humanity roll by.  This is just a snapshot of the many people who were a part of the procession.  I was seriously blown away by the number of people who were there.