tonight at vespers we were all handed a blessed palm tied to a willow. tomorrow is palm Sunday, and we are to bring them and process the church with them. why? what is palm Sunday?
Without delving into the spiritual meaning of the day...
Palm Sunday (one of the 12 Great Feasts of the Orthodox Church) is the day of Christ's Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem to prepare for His Passion, Death, and Resurrection. The entry was triumphal because the crowds which had seen Him raise Lazaros from the dead went into Jerusalem and created a stir about Him and the great miracle He had performed. Jerusalem was filling quickly in anticipation of the Jewish feast of Passover, which was to take place that week, so there was a great crowd present - Jews from the immediate area, and also from all around the Mediterranean world. As Jesus approached the city, the people gathered at the entry-point to the city and shouted praise to Him, and waved and laid down branches of palm trees (and even their cloaks) on the road in front of Him. "Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!"
This triumphal entry, and all the "buzz" about Jesus' coming, also stirred up the Pharisees and Sadducees once again, who did not understand the popular devotion to Jesus, and did not like it.