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Saturday, March 29, 2014

WILL THE PALM SUNDAY STORY LIVE OR DIE?

A week ago I asked a group of Christian communicators for ideas on making Palm Sunday “real” for kids today. 

Personally, I remember crowding into the church chancel with other kids to hear the story 60 years ago. My concern: This year, there’ll be no crowd of kids in many churches. Will the story die for lack of audience? Can those of us who live for the Gospel story take it to the kids where they’ll be? How can we share our beloved story with others (especially kids) for whom it may have no current interest, perhaps because they've never heard it?

File:Child selling sacred palm for Palm Sunday.jpg 
(Photo in public domain. Sourced 3/29/2014: Wikimedia Commons.

Four communicators responded: Dr. William Randolph, a director at General Board of Discipleship, United Methodist Church (UMC); Rev. Sue D’Alessio, pastor at Oak Creek Community UMC; and John Carr, Ph.D., a registered psychologist associated with the Journal of Pastoral Care Publications. 

Their comments confirmed that Palm Sunday is a powerful and dramatic asset for faith and culture. But beyond just telling the story, they suggested that it needs to be demonstrated in an imaginative way,  as with a parade or victory dance. Another suggestion? Communicate the passion side of the story with folding palm fronds in the form of a cross.

Other ideas come to mind, too, for home or neighborhood settings in any continent:

· Help kids create a visual of the story with Legos
· No Legos? Use paper-on-cardboard construction.
· Add action. Hold a costume party. Key characters would include Jesus and his welcoming party and even a donkey.
· Make lanterns and stage an early evening parade for the neighborhood or the village.

With imagination and flexibility, we may keep the Palm Sunday story alive for future generations. Personally, I’d love to see a Palm Sunday electronic game for use on hand-helds. That would take the story to where kids are.

I thank Dr. Randolph, Dr.Carr and Pastor D’Alessio for their participation! Thanks to my spouse for ideas and to Tammy Adamson-McMullen for editing.

Next week I'll float ideas in this column for telling the Easter story. I'm soliciting suggestions. If you have a suggestion, please leave a comment. Here's wishing you a great Palm Sunday on April 13, 2014!

(References for Palm Sunday: Matthew 21:1-11, Matthew chapter 27.)

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