Rained out, but Palm Sunday proceeds

Congregants take cover for annual start of Holy Week
Mar. 24, 2013 @ 03:26 PM

A steady rain, buffeted by wind, fell on downtown Durham Sunday morning, raining out the annual Palm Sunday processional usually held by multiple churches on the steps of the old Durham County Courthouse.

One steadfast family braved the elements and arrived at the courthouse with umbrellas, walking over from home after having breakfast downtown. Erin Gasch said it was their first time coming to the Palm Sunday procession, where First Presbyterian Church, Fisher Memorial United Holy Church, St. Philip’s Episcopal Church and Trinity United Methodist Church participate in a Blessing of the Palms before heading to worship at their respective churches. She was joined by her husband, Ken; son Winston, 8; and daughter Tate, 6. The Gaschs, who attend St. Philip’s Episcopal, gave it a few minutes before deciding to just head on over to their church.

At First Presbyterian, the congregation gathered just inside the doors, palm branches in hand, for a drier event before heading into the sanctuary. Rev. Joe Harvard, pastor of First Presbyterian, said later that the churches made the call about an hour before the blessing to celebrate indoors at their own churches. They still followed the joint blessing program.

Rev. Sam Miglarese, an associate pastor at First Presbyterian, read from the New Testament book of Luke 19:28-40, about the preparations for Jesus Christ’s entry into Jerusalem. Christians observe Palm Sunday as the beginning of Holy Week, and the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem before his crucifixion and resurrection.

The congregation recited a collective thanksgiving over the palms and sang “Lift High the Cross.” The brief service ended with a prayer and then the congregated headed into the sanctuary for worship.

Harvard, who is retiring in early May after leading First Presbyterian for three decades, said he was a little disappointed that his last Palm Sunday processional was rained out.

“It’s a great way to begin Holy Week, reenacting Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem – a king riding humbly on a donkey,” Harvard said. “It reminds me some of the new pope, with Pope Francis coming humbly to his task.”

Harvard quoted the Old Testament book of Micah 6:8: “What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

“It’s the humble walk we often lose sight of,” Harvard said.