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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

05 April 2007

From Parade to Penitence

Q: What is the proper way to dispose of palm branches?

Palm SundayA: Palm processionals are an ancient tradition in much of the world, especially as a celebration of victory. On Palm Sunday in the Christian Church, they recall the palms waved and cloaks laid before Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on the Sunday before His death.

To capture the bitter irony of the celebration turning into suffering, many churches gather and dry the branches they use each year. They then carefully burn them and sift the ashes. These ashes are kept until Ash Wednesday of the following year, when we receive them on our foreheads to mark the beginning of another Lententide.

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Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

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