“The Sign of the Palms”

“So they took branches of palm trees
and went out to meet him, shouting,
“Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of the Lord—the King of Israel!”

John 12:13
On Sunday, we celebrated Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey as the crowd laid palm fronds on the street before him. The palms were a sign of honor. After we heard the Palm Sunday story from the Gospel of John, I shared with the congregation some thoughts about the importance of honor, especially in times of stress, grief, and even death. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, he was well aware that he would be arrested and crucified on that trip. And what does he do to prepare himself and those he loves? He throws two dinner parties and participates in a parade in which he is the Grand Marshall!

Jesus knew the importance of mutual honor: of letting himself and his purpose be honored and also to honor those around him. At the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha, Jesus attended a dinner in his honor. Mary poured expensive perfume on his feet and lovingly wiped it with her hair. Then Jesus entered Jerusalem as people brought palm fronds and shouted “Hosanna” in his honor. Next Jesus shared a meal with his disciples in which he honored them by acknowledging their experiences and emotions, assuring them of his love and presence (even after his death), and praying with them and for them (that they would be one in community just as Jesus was one with God).

Jesus’ commitment to mutual honor reminds me that we need more of this in our world: honoring those who are different by acknowledging their experiences and emotions, assuring them of our love and being fully present, and praying with and for them. I invite you to consider those in your circle, community and world who are hungry for that kind of honor; then allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to participate in mutual honor as Jesus did in the last days of his life.

Aloha nui!
Kahu Alan Akana


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“A Message from Kahu Alan Akana” is provided most weeks by Koloa Union Church, an Open & Affirming (ONA) congregation of the United Church of Christ (UCC), a member of the Kauai Association and Hawaii Conference.

To see a video of this week’s worship service, including the message, click HERE. You may see the Koloa Union Church YouTube channel to see previous worship services and many of Kahu’s past messages. You can subscribe in order be notified when a new message is posted. Please share these videos with friends and invite them to church. Please feel free to “Like” any of the videos you see and share them on social media, such as Facebook, so that others will notice them.

You are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings! To see our Sunday morning schedule, click HERE.

Kahu Akana is also an accomplished artist! He specializes in creating vibrant watercolors of the flowers of Hawaii and hosts a Sunday afternoon reception in a gallery at his home, the Smith Memorial Parsonage. He also meets visitors by appointment. Most of the profit from the sales go for the maintenance and upkeep of the parsonage. To see a video about his art and gallery, click HERE. To see the gallery website, click HERE.