Every year, I learn how to fold palms into crosses. Every year, I forget how to fold palms into crosses. Every year, I relearn how to fold palms into crosses. I hope, at some point, it sticks.
Imagine now, sitting in front of a dozen kids between the ages of 2 and 8, and trying to lead them in the folding of palm crosses. On my lap was the bible opened to Matthew 21 and two sheets of paper with descriptions on how to fold the crosses. Across from me sat our head pastor while the director of our CYF ministries was off to the left. By step 4, I was confused. By step 6, I was lost. By step 7, my engineering skills kicked in, I put the pages down, and the CYF director and I came up with our own way to finish the crosses. We then spent at least 10 minutes helping all the kids create their own crosses. I think they had a good time but we ended up missing the hymn of the day, the intercessions, and the peace (during our first service, the kids come to a children’s church after the gospel reading). Then, throughout the day, I helped adults between services to create their own palm crosses. For a moment, I almost had the idea of a sermon that consisted entirely of helping everyone fold their own crosses and encouraging them to keep them, to carry them, to hang them in their house, or in their car. Even though we’re Lutherans, we can learn much from the love of palm crosses that I see displayed in my Eastern Orthodox neighbors in Astoria. I like the idea of it.
The crosses weren’t the only thing that was fairly wacky at Palm Sunday yesterday. I was in charge of the altar guild for three services. As part of my own personal piety, after clearing the table, I finish off the left over white grape juice, wine, and host. But I am also a light weight when it comes to alcohol. Four chalices of wine (with lots of broken bits of bread in it) is a lot for me. I was in a fairly good mood by the time I had to carry the cross during the third service. And on top of all that wine, for the first time at my internship church, the bread was a real loaf of bread and not just pita. Actually, it was a giant loaf of bread. I swear it was almost as big as me. And we had a giant loaf for each service. I tried to eat as much as I could but it was too much. By the end of the day, I had a belly ache and I returned most of the bread to the earth for the birds. I hope it treated them better than it treated me. Oof.