Scattered Hosannas for Palm Sunday as COVID-19 paves way for church without walls


Scattered Hosannas for Palm Sunday as COVID-19 paves way for church without walls

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

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“They took palm branches and went out to meet him. They kept shouting: 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord…” – Christian Standard Bible

On April 5, 2020 Palm Sunday on the Christian calendar three developments of historic proportions took place, each of them a harbinger of the immediate, if uncertain future facing mankind.

The empty churches from one end of the globe to the next on, of all days, Palm Sunday; the hospitalisation of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson; and the rare wartime-like address by The Queen, might have all been fortuitous. But the common thread linking all in a morbid chain of death and economic devastation was the unrelenting march of the novel coronavirus disease or COVID-19, which, at Jamaica Observer press time, had killed over 67,000 people and sickened almost 1.3 million.

Mr Johnson's condition worsened since Sunday, and yesterday he was taken to the intensive care unit, leaving Britons to ponder what will become of their leader at the start of a new post-Brexit era that he himself had unreservedly championed.

The British prime minister had been one of several politicians to have contracted the coronavirus, but only the first to be put into intensive care. Anything less than his safe and complete recovery would constitute a crushing blow that would shake the foundations of British society.

Announcement of his hospitalisation Sunday had come in the wake of one of the rarest of national addresses by The Queen and, outside her annual Christmas Day speeches, only the fifth in her 68-year reign to rally the spirits of the British people and offer hope in the face of a seemingly unstoppable virus.

“I am speaking to you at what I know is an increasingly challenging time. A time of disruption in the life of our country; a disruption that has brought grief to some, financial difficulties to many, and enormous changes to the daily lives of us all...” The Queen said.

“I hope in the years to come everyone will be able to take pride in how they responded to this challenge. And those who come after us will say that the Britons of this generation were as strong as any.”

But perhaps most telling for the more than one billion Christians across the world were the scenes of empty pews unimaginable on Palm Sunday, which is easily one of the most revered and drama-filled days on the church's calendar.

Palm Sunday marked the start of Christ's journey to the cross, that culminates in His crucifixion on Good Friday, on which Christians base their core beliefs and the hope that in His death and resurrection three days later their salvation is assured.

The nimbleness of the deadly virus has struck all, leaving no human activity untouched, including church, for weeks before governments ordered their populations to hunker down at home.

While the Church has faced many daunting challenges, some involving life or death decisions, over the course of its more than 2,000-year existence none has been as all-encompassing or as brutal in stomping out traditional rituals of worship.

Now that the Church at large has further embraced technology, with more and more worshipping in cyberspace, it is the new colt on which Christ's message will ride in the church without walls.

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