Churches start Easter preparations

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Churches start Easter preparations

Ivan Zhakata Herald Correspondent

CHRISTIANS across the country kicked off the Holy Week with Palm Sunday celebrations, commemorating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem before his crucifixion.

Falling on the last Sunday before Easter, Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the journey leading to the Cross. Traditionally, it’s observed with processions where believers wave palm branches and sing hymns.

Yesterday churches in held marches across the country. Methodist, Anglican, Roman Catholic churches were some of the churches that held Palm Sunday celebrations.

In Harare, Anglican parishioners started at their church on Third Street and Central Avenue, taking the procession through several streets before winding up at the parish.

Catholics also held their procession by circling their church before venturing into nearby avenues area before returning to the church premises.

Before the processions, a cleric blessed the palm branches held by the congregants. Palm branches were chosen because historically they were common in the Mediterranean region.

Palm Sunday serves as a time for Christians to reflect on the significance of the coming week and their spiritual connection with God.

Some Christians use the 40 days leading up to Palm Sunday as a period for confession and spiritual renewal. Ultimately, Palm Sunday is a reminder for Christians to live a Christ-like life.

The Archdiocese of Harare, which held smaller Easter services last year due to restrictions, plans to return to its traditional cluster-level festivities this year.

Harare Diocese General Vicker Father Kennedy Muguti said Catholics all around the world received palm branches in remembrance of when the Jewish people welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem, laying the palms before him. 

“This is also known as triumphant entry and most of the parishes will begin the Holy Mass with long processions, singing and waving palms,” he said.

“Palm Sunday signals the beginning of Holy Week, preparing us for Our Lord’s passion on Good Friday and His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday. The use of palms to signify triumph is an ancient practice. Greek athletes would carry palm branches as a sign of celebration and victory.

The use of palms is also seen throughout the Old Testament. In the Book of Leviticus, Moses gives instructions to the Israelites on how to celebrate the Festival of Booths. “On the first day you shall gather the fruit of majestic trees, branches of palms, and boughs of leafy trees and valley willows. Then for a week you shall make merry before the Lord, your God” (Leviticus 23:40).” 

Father Muguti said in the Gospels, palms represent Jesus’ triumphant return to Jerusalem just days before the ultimate victory when, by His crucifixion, He defeats sin and death.

“Hence in our remembrance, with palms in hand, we proclaim the words of the Jewish people in the Gospel reading from Mark 11:1-10, when they shouted, ‘Hosanna,’ which means ‘Save us’ in Hebrew,” he said.

“Faced with the prevailing situations where the region is facing serious drought, and as a country hyperinflation is taking a toll on the hard earned money, social evil of drugs destroying our young people when we receive palms on Palm Sunday, may it help us reflect on our need for saving as we begin Holy Week.”

However, Pentecostal churches and Apostolic sects do not celebrate Palm Sunday and conduct their church services as usual.

Bishop Happymore Gotora of the Apostolic Faith Mission of Zimbabwe said they do not celebrate Palm Sunday, but they observe Easter holidays.

“Yesterday we had our normal church service as we do not celebrate Palm Sunday,” Bishop Gotora said.

“We are going to celebrate Easter holidays starting from Thursday. Palm Sunday is common in Catholic churches. We Pentecostal churches do not celebrate Palm Sunday.

Vapostori for Economic Development spokesperson Madzibaba Obey Mapuranga said all Vapostori do not celebrate a Palm Sunday.

“The rest celebrate Easter Holiday except Johanne Masowe Chishanu which does not have any Biblical holidays because they are a non-Bible reading sect,” he said.

“Other Vapostori religions that celebrate Easter Holiday are Mugodhi Faith Apostolic church, Zviratidzo, Jekenisheni, National Apostolic Faith of Holy Ghost, Zvishamiso ZveVapostori, Sungano Nhatu yemaZion (Andreas Shoko, David Masuka and Ruben Makuva Mutendi), among others.”