Tag Archives: Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday 2013 – Tomorrow

It’s Palm Sunday tomorrow, March 24. Palm Sunday is celebrated in many Christian churches to commemorate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the week he was captured, tried and crucified.

Reeds or palm fronds were thrown into the road to giving Jesus a carpet of green in celebration, like a King, to his arrival in Jerusalem. It also marks the start of Holy Week in which many of the preliminary events are also commemorated.

Palm Sunday, in most churches, is celebrated with joyful music, singing, and praise to God, a significant departure from how the week ends with the darkness of Good Friday.

There are many good Palm Sunday services in churches tomorrow. I would estimate over three-fourths of Anchorage churches celebrate this day. A Google search using the words palm sunday anchorage 2013 revealed fifteen different churches on the first three pages of the results.

You can search for my previous Palm Sunday write-ups by clicking HERE. It’s possible you might find an ideal church in my reviews.

Have a happy Palm Sunday as we enter Holy Week.

Faith Presbyterian – Palm Sunday 2012

Faith Presbyterian was selected as my Church Visits church on Palm Sunday because it listed at the top of a Google search of Anchorage churches offering Palm Sunday services. They meet at Tanglewood Golf Chalet on Brayton Drive in South Anchorage. Although technically a Palm Sunday service, it clearly was not in the traditional sense.

I came in through a knot of people in the foyer, was not greeted, and found a seat. Before the service a gentleman came over, handed me a bulletin, CLICK HERE TO VIEW and said “You missed a bulletin. You’re going to need that.” Music was playing as I entered, played by a woman at an electronic piano. The room was very noisy with people talking noisily so one could barely hear the hymns being played. The atmosphere did not seem reverent, and was most unlike church. The nameless and unannounced leader then took the podium and said it was “Time to quiet our hearts”. Clearly it was too late for his announcement of being quiet. After church, I discovered this person was Pastor John Jones who was listed in the bulletin, along with four other men as Elders. People in the congregation dressed a bit more formally than most other churches I visit.

Visitors were not welcomed or greeted, with the exception of a missionary to India who was pointed out and commented upon. The bulletin was key to the service as the readings, prayers, and scripture references were all included. Page 13 of the bulletin contained a very good and helpful section for parents (see below). There were many small children in the audience and I liked this approach, a first in my many Anchorage church visits.

A Note for Parents of “Little Theologians”
At Faith, we love having our children with us during the worship service! As they listen and sing and stand, we believe that they are really being ministered to by God’s grace. You are not imposing on the body as you help your children to make it through an entire service (we try to finish by 12:15). The small disruptions that children bring to a worship service are most often reminders to the body (and the pastor) of Jesus‘ deep affection for “little theologians.”

That said, if you prefer, we do offer a safe nursery downstairs for children age 4 and under (and for particularly wiggly children!). You are more than welcome to take advantage of this.

Our elders believe that one gauge of a good sermon is its clarity to “little theologians!” Here are some ways you can help the pastor speak to your children.

1. Let your child see you open your Bible to the sermon text:
Luke 19.28‐36
2. After the pastor prays, whisper to your child the proposition of the sermon:
Jesus enters Jerusalem as a willing participant in God’s plan.
3. Gently alert your child each time the pastor begins a new main point. For older children, tell them that each main point will say something about sin, and something about Jesus. The main points are:
A. There is a plan.
B. Jesus, the willing participant.
C. The glorious role of a disciple.
4. The pastor will announce the conclusion of the sermon; help your child to recognize this (they may be very ready!) and encourage them to listen carefully.[img_assist|nid=160928|title=Mother Guiding Child Through Hymn Words at Faith|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=248]

What happened next was unprecedented in all of my Anchorage church visits. The pastor continued onstage and single-handedly led all portions of the service until its conclusion, 1¼ hours later. Church is a meeting of the body of believers, and it’s very telling when only one person is seen for such a length of time. Had I read their website closely I would have discovered that the VISIT FAITH section clearly described the entire service for a prospective visitor. Jones’ sermon was a good one and very Biblical. However, he kept concluding his sermon for over ten minutes. A sermon recording is not available, with February 12, 2012’s sermon by him, one of five on iTunes, being the latest available. This congregation is allied with the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA).[img_assist|nid=160929|title=Faith’s Pastor John Jones Leading the Liturgy|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=350|height=171]

During the offering Faith’s small choir beautifully sang while it was received. Visitors were not excepted from giving to the offering, a visitor-friendly gesture. Their website, as of this writing, is woefully out-of-date with the worship bulletin from April 8, 2012 being the latest posted. The Easter Schedule is still present plus the worship bulletins from March 11, 2012 to April 8, 2012.

Faith appears to be a solid Bible-believing church with a serious worship service, definitely not contemporary Christian. To me it was not visitor-friendly in any aspect of their service. Faith’s website presents their MISSION as:

At Faith, our expectation for the Christian life is that Jesus Christ will impel us into our neighborhoods and city with the message of His gospel of grace displayed in our words and our actions. We have such hope in the life and message of Jesus that we expect His gospel to touch not only just neighborhoods and city but, through this contact, to move out into the entire world.

As a first-time guest, I did not feel the focus of this stated mission. In fact, only one person talked with me, and that when I asked who the speaker was. Their website, unlike most of Anchorage church websites, uses the technique of munging to eliminate spam. For example their website lists the following if you’re trying to contact an elder.

“Contact a specific elder, or you can email all of the elders at: elder (at) faithanchorage (dot) org.”

Many people won’t know the above means:elder@faithanchorage.org.

A number of church writers, and technical experts say this really doesn’t stop spam, and is confusing for users. I believe only a fraction of people trying to contact the church by email would know this.

I liked Faith’s focus on the Word, their traditional liturgy, and concern for their children. But during my visit, I did feel like a nameless/faceless person in their midst. A few visitors will acculturate over time, but can defect when the reality of what they’ve accepted hits them. However, usually, the average guest decides in 5-8 minutes whether or not to return to a new church.

I really missed the Palms for Palm Sunday. Just because a church is on top of the Google search for Palm Sunday in Anchorage doesn’t mean they believe in using this tiny symbol of Christian faith.

Anchorage Palm Sunday 2012

Tomorrow, Holy Week observances around the world begin. Palm Sunday is the first observance of Holy Week. Based on Jesus’ triumphal entry to Jerusalem, it begins a cycle of daily commemorations of that awful time. Palm fronds from last year’s Palm Sunday observances have already been burned, creating ashes for Ash Wednesday in February. New palm fronds are used in many churches in recognition of the greenery thrown on the roadway as Jesus rode into Jerusalem.

Many Anchorage churches will not observe Palm Sunday tomorrow, but strangely, will celebrate Easter, although both occasions are strongly based on the gospels.

Anchorage always has its share of Palm Sunday observances, but the Anchorage Daily News Matters of Faith listings today contained only three church notices of Palm Sunday Services tomorrow. ADN does a great job of putting in all listings that are submitted on a timely basis. It’s too bad more churches do not use this great free service. The churches listed were:

St. John United Methodist Church
St. Mary’s Episcopal
First Baptist Church

A Google search using the search terms “palm sunday anchorage 2012” revealed the following churches offering Palm Sunday services in the first three Google results pages. Usually people doing searches don’t go beyond the first or second page. Hyperlinks to these churches’ webpages have been included as a service to readers of this blog. They are listed in the order that Google presented them.

All Saints Episcopal Church
St. Mary’s Episcopal
St. John United Methodist
First Congregational
Faith Presbyterian
St. Benedicts
Trinity Presbyterian
Archdiocese of Anchorage
Anchorage Lutheran
First Baptist Church
Christ Our Savior Lutheran

Palm Sunday is a joyous time that ultimately culminates with Good Friday’s somber realities. I’ll be visiting one of these churches on Palm Sunday. Palm Sunday is a wonderful time to connect with faith communities and strengthen your personal walk.

Today is Palm Sunday 2011

[img_assist|nid=156659|title=Palm Sunday 2011|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=250|height=258]

As Anchorage is so close to the International Date Line, most of the world will have already celebrated Palm Sunday by the time I post this. Palm Sunday is the day most of Christendom commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem as recorded in the gospels (Matthew 21, Mark 11, John 12).

This day is the start of Holy Week, where the events of Jesus’ last days are remembered with various events and ceremonies in many churches.

Many mainline churches use palm fronds, either with the children or everyone, to symbolize the event recorded in scripture. They are variously used but I enjoy seeing children waving them to joyful songs. I did not grow up in a palm frond waving church. I can imagine it would have made a deep impression on me as a child.

I Googled “Palm Sunday Services Anchorage 2011” and found Palm Sunday service listings for the following churches on the first two results pages. (Most Google users don’t dig down past the first two pages.) You may get other results with different search terms.

First Congregational Church
Archdiocese of Anchorage
All Saints Episcopal
Chapel by the Sea
Unity of Anchorage Church
Anchorage Lutheran Church
Holy Transfiguration Greek Orthodox
Faith Lutheran Church

Few Palm Sunday services were mentioned on the Anchorage Daily News Matters of Faith listings in the Saturday paper.

In closing, as always, I primarily attend church during the Easter season to privately worship rather than observe and write. Many of us recognize that Easter is a time when those who do not normally attend church, do come. During this time churches hold many special events and the air, for a first time visitor, is usually completely different than at other times.

I wish all readers a happy Palm Sunday.

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It’s Palm Sunday – 2010

Worldwide, many Christians are celebrating Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week. This is the day that Jesus, according to the Gospels, rode into Jerusalem on a burro, a triumphal event that believers hoped would be the beginning of establishing an earthly kingdom, rescuing them from enslavement under the Romans.

Instead, it was the beginning of the end when He would be put to death at the end of the week. Celebrated with Palm leaves in many churches, often with children waving them in celebration, this event is joyful in anticipation of freedom.

Some churches do not celebrate Palm Sunday, arguing that Holy Week emphasis is celebrated throughout their church year. Whether or not you observe Palm Sunday, it is important to note that many Christians do, with great reverence, celebration, and due piety. Many Anchorage churches observed and celebrated Palm Sunday today.

Faure’ Requiem @ St. John UMC – Palm Sunday – 4 pm

A Holy Week musical treat is being performed for the Anchorage community on Sunday, March 28, 4 pm. The St. John UMC Sanctuary Choir, conducted by Karen Horton, will be presenting the Faure’ Requiem, at St. John’s beautiful church. An orchestral ensemble of local professional musicians will accompany the choir. This concert is presented in honor of the life of Betty Gartner, a lifelong Methodist, who loved to sing in choirs believing music is integral to worship, touching people in ways words do not. Betty was the mother of St. John’s Sandy Langland, who with her husband Marc, has made this Requiem possible through a generous donation. A reception will follow the program.[img_assist|nid=150871|title=Stained Glass – Sacre Coeur – Paris|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=306|height=490]

A short piece, taking approximately 35 minutes to perform, the Faure’ Requiem is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful of the requiems. Faure’ in a 1902 interview commented on his requiem.
“It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. The music of Gounod has been criticized for its overinclination towards human tenderness. But his nature predisposed him to feel this way: religious emotion took this form inside him. Is it not necessary to accept the artist’s nature? As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.”


Palm Sunday is Here

This Sunday many Anchorage area churches celebrate Palm Sunday. What is the meaning of this day? Palm Sunday is observed on the Sunday before Easter, the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. As a point of interest, Palm Sunday is noted in all four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This day commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem just prior to the events leading up to his death and resurrection.

When and where available, churches often use palm leaves or branches to pay homage to the honor given Jesus as noted in the Gospels where people lay garments or cut rushes in the street. John’s Gospel does indicate palm fronds, a symbol of triumph and victory in the Jewish tradition. There’s much more. If you are interested click here for more.

Palm Sunday is a day of reflection and ceremony with many churches offering special music and pastoral messages of deeper significance. I encourage you to visit a local church offering these services to learn more and share in the deeper significance of these commemorations of Christ’s final days prior to his Passion.