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Palm Sunday is a Christian moveable feast that falls on the Sunday before Easter. The feast commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in each of the four canonical Gospels. Palm Sunday marks the first day of Holy Week, the last week of the Christian solemn season of Lent that precedes the arrival of Easter.

In the Bible, as well as from sources outside of the Bible, we see that the use of “palm branches” was often tied to “victory.” The Bible first shows us this in conjunction with the “Feast of Tabernacles.” As a part of this celebration, the Israelites were commanded by God to construct and live in “booths” (for 7 days), which were made from “the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook” (Lev 23:40)(also see: Neh 8:14-18). This was done to commemorate the way the people of Israel lived after God gave them “victory,” and brought them out of Egypt.

     While not recorded in the Bible, history tells us that waving palm branches was also done to celebrate kings and conquerors. We also know that in Greek athletic competitions, victors were often given a palm branch, which they would wave to celebrate their “victory.” Palm branches are a part of Christian worship on Palm Sunday, or Passion Sunday, as it is sometimes called. This event commemorates Jesus Christ‘s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, as foretold by the prophet Zechariah.

Palm Branches on Palm Sunday

  • In the Bible, Jesus ‘ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem with the waving of palm branches is found in John 12: 12-15 (see below); Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; and Luke 19:28-44.
  • Today Palm Sunday is celebrated one week before Easter, on the first day of Holy Week.
  • The first celebration of Palm Sunday in the Christian church is uncertain. A palm processional was recorded as early as the 4th century in Jerusalem, but the ceremony was not introduced into Western Christianity until the 9th century.

The Bible tells us that people cut branches from palm trees, laid them across Jesus’ path and waved them in the air as he entered Jerusalem the week before his death. They greeted Jesus not as the spiritual Messiah who would take away the sins of the world, but as a potential political leader who would overthrow the Romans. They shouted “Hosanna [meaning “save now”], blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”

Cross made out of palm fronds… see how to make on YouTube

Jesus’ Triumphant Entry in the Bible

All four Gospels include the account of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem:

The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said: “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.​” (John 12:12-15)

Palm Branches Today

Today, many Christian churches distribute palm branches to worshipers on Palm Sunday, which is the sixth Sunday of Lent and last Sunday before Easter. On Palm Sunday, people remember Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, praise him for the gift of salvation, and look expectantly to his second coming.

Customary Palm Sunday observances include the waving of palm branches in procession, the blessing of palms, and the making of small crosses with palm fronds.

Palm Sunday also marks the beginning of Holy Week, a solemn week focusing on the final days of Jesus Christ’s life. Holy Week culminates on Easter Sunday, the most important holiday in Christianity.

Summer training via CEF Ministries of North Carolina Durham Area Chapter and Camps for City Kids are underway (virtually for now) #Zoom #GoogleMeet #teens #interns #dns_readingcamp #citykids #cityreach cyiatraining #summermissions

Reading and academic sessions, Bible (CEF 5-Day Clubs), etiquette classes, life skills, character development (Power & Light), and some health & wellness mixed in weekly provides a full schedule of relevant and helpful opportunities for students who will be starting a new school year in grades 4-8th in August. These camps run for 6-weeks June 15th-July 23rd.

Sponsorships are still needed for kids to attend our summer and fall camps. Tax-deductible donations are received at Camps for City Kids.

Engagement Strategies

Portions of this series will be presented in short segments during CEF of North Carolina statewide staff WebEx meetings and completely with full discussions and strategy sessions when feasible per COVID-19 restrictions. All are welcome to read and Q/A with me, but the live series will be presented to NC staff. Topics to be expanded into strategies and discussed:

  • Resource Development
  • Donor Development
  • Ministry Development
  • Operational System Development
It needs unique strategies and truthful answers to children’s tough questions.

Since all clubs, schools, and camps are cancelled addressing care and prevention of COVID-19, CEF Durham, as many other organizations and agencies, is praying, brainstorming, and planning in many venues and modes of communication. Thus, we are innovating and adjusting how we minister to children and families. Some brief and direct contact with families has occurred to bring supplies, helps, breakfast, and the “Do You Wonder Why?” booklets to each home and child enrolled in CEF clubs.

Though we cannot be directly with the children in our clubs and camps, we are continuing to teach and love the kids in our weekly outreach and discipleship meetings via Zoom calls, web-based teaching, and prayer. Here are other FREE Resources CEF is providing for children, families, and teachers during the COVID-19 pandemic. Do not fear and be encouraged.

Teens from Liberty St. Apts with Lori Fisher and Amanda Hallsbrook, student volunteer-mentor, together at “Blacktop Games”

City Kids should and can reach their own families, schools, and communities for Christ. Don’t neglect mission-centered discipleship.

Thousands of people are dying every day without knowing Jesus as their Savior. How will they be reached? Romans 10:14-15 reminds us that in order for people to hear about Jesus, someone must be sent. That’s why God calls missionaries to go! The children of today, which includes city kids, should be missionaries now and the rest of their lives. Therefore, it is essential that you and I understand our role in challenging saved children regarding the need for missionaries in their schools and communities.

Teachers should expect to intentionally incorporate a mission’s emphasis as an integral part of Good News Clubs, church-based youth classes, or even when hanging out, using practical ideas to share a missionary vision.

What are the reasons, aspects, and impact of teaching youth about missions?

Missions originates in the heart of God (John 3:16)

  • Teach children about missions to help them develop a heart for missions like God
  • Cultivate a heart of compassion for lost people globally and in their own city and neighborhood
  • Challenge children to reach their own generation/peers for Christ
  • Equip children with the foundational tools for sharing and living the Good News, the Gospel message

Missions is the responsibility of every believer (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:18-20) – City kids can be involved in missions by:

  • Knowing: Give them information about missionaries, different types of missions, countries, and cultures, etc.
  • Praying: Specifically for the needs of select missionaries, their country, the salvation of its people, etc.
  • Giving: Challenge children to give money, time, and encouragement to missionaries so that others can hear about the Lord Jesus.
  • Going: Challenge saved children to participate in planned missions outreach events, mission trips, or efforts regularly.

Statistics show that exposure to missions is one way God calls people into full time Christian service as a personal lifestyle or with an organization or church

  • 21% were called to missions as a result of a missions education provided in their local church
  • 20% felt God calling them after listening to missionary speakers
  • 19% were called because of their own family’s missions vision, experiences, and conversations
  • 10% heard God’s call through reading books, watching movies, and listening to stories about missionaries and missions work
Always include PRAYER as a powerful aspect of teaching missions

The impact of teaching missions to children is that each generation will be informed and inspired (Psalm 78:7, 8). If we are intentional and take serious our responsibility, young lives will be dedicated to the Lord for missionary service, fulfilling the Great Commission. If more reasons are needed than this, of course, there are other impacts on children taught about missions, which by the way, will impact their world.

  • Children will have a vision and burden for those who are lost in sin and who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ
  • Children will begin now to share the message of salvation with others
  • Children will grow spiritually through involvement in missions
  • Children will desire to engage local missions efforts regularly

Reality Checks: Before you make adjustments in your missions teaching

#1 – People are hungering for an experience of God, not just more information about God.

There is no doubt that teaching children about missions is vitally important because thousands of people are dying every day without Christ. How will the saved children you teach get a burden for missions and desire to be involved if you don’t make time for missions in your class or when hanging out? But how is this truth being applied to lives of children (anyone)? Thus, have children learn by doing missions work as well as hearing.

#2 – Presenting content about missions alone is a teaching short-fall and no longer the greatest need in an age where content fills the internet.

So what does this mean? Content used to fill a church auditorium or classroom because content was scarce and pastors/teachers were the authority or experts on the biblical content we needed to understand. You had to attend to hear a message or a Bible study or even children’s Christian education. However podcasts, YouTube and multiple social media platforms have changed that dramatically and permanently from what I am able to understand. As a result, you no longer have to be in the room to listen.

#3 – So many leaders talk about reaching the next generation but never include the next generation.

It’s going to take the leadership of the next generation to reach the next generation. Perhaps you, as the teacher, will have to make some changes and adjust your classroom or the time you spend with the city kids, to empower your students to reach their generation. Leading people to Jesus in a world that’s moving away from Jesus is an increasingly difficult challenge… and increasingly, it’s a larger opportunity. Who will I send… and who will go?

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