Simple! You just take a blade of a palm branch and twist it until it looks like a cross.
Jesus paraded into Jerusalem, riding a donkey. The people who met this strange parade probably got the irony of the sight. They were familiar with the Book of the Prophet Zechariah (9.9), which reads, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Simple! To take control of Jerusalem, you just ride into town on a donkey and no self respect soldier will give you a second glance.
Yet these same soldiers, who no doubt scoffed at the notion that this strange figure posed any real threat to the status quo, were ordered to arrest him and kill him.
Simple! To rid the world of this nuisance you just have to put him to death.
Little did anyone realize that death couldn’t contain him or his message. The waving palm branches are emblems of joy, we twist them into crosses because the cross has become an emblem of joy too. It is the single most powerful symbol of joy we have at knowing that Jesus Christ lives.
It doesn’t matter what a cross is made of; wood, stone, metal, branch, water, oil or the wave of a hand it is, for us, a symbol of the awesome love of God for this world.
Our spiritual preparations for Easter continue in earnest on Palm Sunday; we have walked the road with Jesus and we know that the most terrifying part is yet to come. This week the story of the passion will be vividly told in the gospels. We will hold back the tears on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. All around us are reminders of the hope and joy we place in the cross of Jesus Christ. Just one week away we will be able to proclaim with confidence that Christ is risen! And sing a loud: Alleluia!