No palms on Palm Sunday for faithful

Published 8:36 am Friday, April 3, 2020

Palm Sunday marks the start of Holy Week for Christians. In many churches, an iconic part of the observance that day is the distribution of palms at the start of the service.
The handing out of palms commemorates the welcoming of Jesus to Jerusalem 2,000 years ago by those who placed palm fronds along the path leading into the city.
In some churches, the palms handed out on Palm Sunday are then burned the following year to produce the ashes distributed on Ash Wednesday.
With most churches remaining closed due to the coronavirus epidemic, it means no palm branches in local churches Sunday.
In recent weeks, churches like schools and businesses, which are closed, have had to change how they do worship because of the coronavirus and to adhere to social distancing guidelines. Social media has become a great tool for churches in the Elizabethton-Carter County area, allowing them to stream church services that have been effectively moved from the in-person experience many have come to know to online sermons where parishioners can get their weekly religious connection via the internet.
Celebrated around the world, Easter is one of the most important holidays in the Christian religion. The springtime holiday celebrates the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.
But this year, Easter celebrations will likely look a lot different as people worldwide have been asked to stay home amid the spread of the coronavirus.
Not only will the palm branches be missing this Easter, but so will the Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, as well as Easter Sunrise services at most churches.
Grace Baptist Church has planned an Easter Sunrise service at the Stateline Drive-In Theater at 7 a.m. followed by a worship service at 8:45 a.m. Only 112 cars will be allowed during each service.
An 11 a.m. worship service is planned by Calvary Baptist Church at the drive-in on Sunday. It will be the fourth Sunday Calvary has had a Sunday morning service at the drive-in.
Also, the community Holy Week services scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at various churches in the community have been cancelled because of the mandate of no more than 10 person in a gathering at one time.
The Rev. Raymond Amos, Pastor of First United Methodist Church, Elizabethton, said this week, “It is hard to imagine Good Friday and Easter without church. I don’t there’s ever been an Easter Sunday that I haven’t been in church, and it’s breaking my heart. I do wish we could worship together in church Easter Sunday.”
He also noted that when it is safe to go back to church again, “we will probably appreciate church more.”
Many churches also host Easter egg hunts for the children, which have been cancelled.
First Lady Melania Trump canceled the White House Easter Egg Roll this year “out of an abundance of caution” amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Certainly, Easter is going to be a lot different this year.

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