The word “Palmer” originally meant a pilgrim who had visited the Holy Land, and returned with a palm leaf as a sign that he or she had made the journey.
Last November, I was privileged to perform the Stations of the Cross while walking the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem in the company of fellow pilgrims from Palmer Church. At one point, I was taken aback as we sang the hymn, “Crown Him With Many Crowns.”
Like many Christians, I had known this hymn from childhood, and could sing the first verse from memory. But on this occasion, as we were walking in the very steps of Christ, I found that the second verse packed an unexpected wallop:
Crown him the son of God
Before the worlds began
And ye who tread where he hath trod
Crown him the Son of Man
Who every grief hath known
That wrings the human breast
And takes and bears them for his own
That all in Him may rest.
I got as far as “tread where he hath trod.” I was too overcome with emotion to sing any more.
Faithful Christians do not need to walk the Via Dolorosa to follow in the steps of our Lord. Since the Middle Ages, the Stations of the Cross has allowed worshippers to relive the passion of Christ in their own churches.
This year, once again, those who desire to share in this powerful devotion can walk the Stations of the Cross every Friday at noon from March 3 to April 7 in the nave of Palmer Church. Palmers are warmly invited to take part, especially if you have never included the Stations of the Cross in your Lenten observances before.
Every time I do the Stations for Lent, I find that Easter is all the more joyful for me. Join us, and see if you don’t feel the same.