On a glorious, bright and cheerful Palm Sunday morning (April 5, 2009) with the temperatures warmed by a sunlit sky, a wonderful feeling of calm and peace came over me. As an Episcopalian the liturgy and service, followed the same familiarity that it has for most of my life. For many years now, Palm Sunday service at my church is the culmination a ritual called The Blessing of the City. Churches in and around the historic Lafayette Square of Baltimore gather at City Hall to knock on the government’s door as we pray, offer up thanksgiving and ask God to bless and protect all of the citizens of the city.
At church service, there was the usual distribution of the palms, the blessing of the doors at the entrance of the church, and the triumphal entry procession with the congregation raising their palms in celebration; rejoicing. Settling down after all the pomp and circumstance of the familiar, it was during the prayer before the sermon when I truly felt the presence of God in my heart.
While sitting in my pew, head bowed in the posture we have come to call ‘looking to the Lord,’ I heard the beauty of Jesus’ voice. The priest was praying for the congregation and the world, and asking for a remembrance of the Gospel (Mark 14 & 15) which is a very holy time for Christians. During the thought-filled prayer, a young child’s voice echoed in the sanctuary –not crying, but speaking softly with a sense of gentle innocence. Then another child’s voice joined in, and another and another until there were many. The voices were a sweet sound. This was not disturbing, just a soft murmur underscoring the prayer.
As the priest continued praying, raising his voice in adulation, the children’s voices increased. When the prayer ended and all said Amen, the sanctuary fell silent. The voices stopped just as suddenly as they began, and there was quiet stillness in the air and at that very moment is when it happened… I felt the presence of the Lord, and I knew in my heart that Jesus was speaking to us through the children; offering up peace. Luke -“But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (NIV)
Sanctus and Benedictus... Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
(c) 2009 Sharon Moore Stenhouse - All Rights Reserved