Spring has sprung! Boy, what a dangerous thing to say (If my cousin Mark is reading this, he’ll be looking for a snowstorm). But as I look outside, I can actually see yard! Not all of it yet, but yard, none the less. It was so warm Sunday that I took a nap in my lawn chair out on the deck! Yes, hope is once more alive, and with signs of spring coming more frequently, thoughts of how to use the warmer months are racing, right? I love that about the break in the weather. There is another thing I love about spring, and that is the celebration of what is called (in the Christian church) Holy Week. This special week is a walk through the last days of Jesus and it starts this weekend with Palm Sunday. Yes, Resurrection Sunday is the high point, but there is something very helpful, necessary even, in the celebration of Palm Sunday. The original event recorded in the New Testament recounts Jesus returning to Jerusalem to shouts of joyful welcome, words of affirmation (we call it praise!) and laying palm branches in the road to “pave” the way. The tragedy of the first Palm Sunday lies in the fact that those who shouted praises to Jesus on that day were shouting for Him to be crucified just six days later. But we have the advantage of hindsight to make our celebration real. The throng of the past thought they were welcoming a Jewish King who would overthrow Roman rule. Today we know Jesus as the King of our hearts who did, indeed, overthrow the ruler of this world so we could be free! As Peter, the disciple of Jesus penned, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV) Our help and need in praising God is centered in the truth that repeatedly declaring who He is and what He has done effectively removes “me” as the hub of my existence and places Jesus rightly in that role. Praise is the great rescuer! It rescues us from pity-parties, doubt, fear, inadequacy, and more. Praise is also the great deliverer! It delivers us right into the presence of the almighty and loving Creator! Why don’t you do it right now? Tell Jesus how awesome He is! Praise is saying, “You’re awesome God, and here’s why…” If you will take time to do that, you’ll experience an amazing thing. The mountains in your life will seem smaller. The things that you seem to desperately need will seem less important (or less impossible), and the sense of unrest or anxiety will begin to drain away! While praise should be a continually flowing thing in the life of the Jesus-follower (“His praise will always be on my lips.” Psalm 34:1), this special day of praise called Palm Sunday gives us a special opportunity to gather with the people of God with the single purpose of sharing our praise of the Savior with one another. That’s what we’re doing this weekend at GFF. If you don’t have a church home, come and join us! It starts at 10:30. If praise is something that seems difficult for you, I especially recommend coming. Hearing the praise of others often stimulates our awareness of how awesome God truly is and can kick start our life of praise! And just like signs of spring tell us that summer is coming, this Palm Sunday praise reminds us that Jesus beat death and rose up from the grave! Start the celebration now!