Palms welcome Jesus, Easter season at local churches
by W. Winston Skinner
Tomorrow will be Easter, and last Sunday Christians in Coweta County celebrated Palm Sunday – welcoming Jesus as the citizens of Jerusalem did almost 2,000 years ago.
Palm Sunday recalls Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The New Testament places the event just days before his crucifixion and resurrection.
The Bible also speaks of cloaks and palm fronds being spread on the street to welcome him into the city. Both actions are re-enacted and used for spiritual lessons at area churches last week.
At each Mass, on Palm Sunday at St. George Catholic Parish, two gospel passages were read and explained. The first was Luke's account of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem – chapter 18 – read by Deacon Jim Bishop after the palm fronds were blessed.
During the Mass, chapters 22-233 of Luke which describes the crucifixion were read in dialogue by Father Henry Atem, the church's pastor, Bishop, Deacon Steve Swope and the congregation. Everyone held palm fronds during that part of the service.
Atem, in his homily after the reading of the passion narrative, reminded the parishioners of the importance of faithfully observing Holy Week. He talked about the institution of the Eucharist on Holy Thursday, the passion and death of Jesus on Good Friday and the glory of the resurrection at the Easter celebrations.
Four Palm Sunday Masses were celebrated at St. George's – including one in Spanish. Palm fronds were blessed before each mass.
Newnan Presbyterian Church, Resurrection Lutheran Church, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, Sunnyside Baptist Church and Word of God Lutheran Church in Peachtree City held communion on Palm Sunday.
At Central Baptist Church, the Music Makers sang "For the Beauty of the Earth," and the Young Musicians sang "All Glory, Laud and Honor." There also was a solo, "Behold the Man," by Jim Qualls.
At Allen-Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Lone Oak, children placed coats on the altar early in the morning service. The youngsters also led the congregation in a procession around the perimeter of the sanctuary.
Although the pastor, Melanie Stanley-Soulen, said those who had difficulty standing or walking could remain seated, everyone participated in the procession – holding and waving palms.
After the procession, Allen-Lee worshippers made palm crosses by placing leaves perpendicularly and pinning them. Members exchanged crosses – presenting the one they made to someone nearby.
“Canticle of the Cross,” a cantata, was presented at Hopewell United Methodist Church in Tyrone. Cornerstone United Methodist Church held an Easter egg hunt on Palm Sunday afternon, and First United Methodist Church held a Taizé service in the sanctuary later in the day.