Of Palm Branches and Crosses

On Palm Sunday (2017), Christians in the Egyptian cities of Tanta and Alexandria joined their brothers and sisters across the globe to raise palm branches in honor of Jesus the King.  And just as it did two thousand years ago, the proclamation of Jesus’ reign produced a violent reaction. Bombers killed dozens and injured scores more. In a way, the story of holy week replayed itself in gruesome detail. The praise of the faithful precipitated a murderous rage among those who would not or could not accept Jesus as their king.

Never believe that worshiping Jesus is always a safe, harmless way to spend a morning. There was a direct connection between the palms of praise and the cross of crucifixion. This was true for Jesus, and it is true for us as well.

Proclaiming Jesus as king can lead to death for his loyal subjects, just as it did for king Jesus himself two thousand years ago. And if that seems like a remote possibility in your corner of the world, remember that many of your brothers and sisters in Christ are reliving the terrors of Christ’s passion in their daily lives.

The suffering church, the martyr church, is not “them”; it is “us”. The whole church is wounded when any part of the church is attacked. There is only one church of Jesus Christ, to which all Christians belong. Every Christian should feel the sting of the shrapnel that tore the flesh of our brothers and sisters in Egypt.

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