Despite not being able to come together in a church edifice for Palm Sunday celebrations, to mark the official beginning of the most important week in the church’s calendar – Holy Week – Elma Garraway was among many who still took time out to celebrate the day by placing a palm branch at her front door; Garraway took it a step further and also placed palms at the beginning of her carport.
“This is time to have faith, and think of all the things that separate us from each other, reflect on traditions that bind us together not only as family, but people of God, as Christians – and so doing, you unite with people all over the world,” said Garraway, who attends the Church of the Resurrection with her husband Anthony Garraway.
“I was born an Anglican, married a wonderful Catholic, and, so, that meant all my life, [all] 50 years that I’ve been married, we have never missed Palm Sunday service or the [Easter] Triduum [the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday of the Lord’s Passion, and Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord]. The washing of the feet on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are such a part of us as Christians that not to be in part of a building or a congregation, I could not think I would not celebrate this wonderful feast and all the other activities that lead to the resurrection of our Lord.”
With The Bahamas under lockdown during the Palm Sunday weekend, in an effort to try to contain the COVID-19 spread with 33 in-country confirmed cases, five dead, and 325 people in quarantine as of Monday, April 6, Garraway said the challenging times people are facing means it’s time to have faith.
During this time of people being confined to their homes, Garraway said it should allow for them to think about all the things that separate them from others, reflect on traditions that bind them together, not only as family, but people of God and as Christians.
“In so doing, you unite with people all over the world,” said Garraway.
Worldwide, there were 1,260,104 confirmed coronavirus cases and 68,413 deaths.
“Despite challenges, you can still untie and reflect on what Palm Sunday means. God acknowledged His kingship and ordinary people and that was our purpose for putting the palm around the door and the beginning of my carport.”
For those that did not have access to palms during the lockdown, religious leaders encouraged people to use any greenery they could find. Sourcing palm branches, which are widely recognized as a symbol of peace and victory, did not present a challenge to Garraway. Her front yard is akin to a palm grove. She simply ventured outside her door, grabbed a few from her trees, put them up and went into her house with her family to take in the blessing of the palms during services on television.
Garraway was one of many who marked Palm Sunday, the official beginning of the most important week in the church’s calendar – Holy Week.
With parishioners unable to attend mass, the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands broadcasted a social distancing service from St. Agnes Church with six people, with Archdeacon Keith Cartwright delivering a sermon in which he told people that in these times, everyone has to get back to the basics and lives of commitment and dedication.
“These are serious times,” said Cartwright. “It’s time to get on our knees and time for us to repent and seek God’s forgiveness for all our sins. Talking time is over. It is time to stand up, put our palms on our shoulders and proclaim Jesus king in [your] life. Shout it from the mountaintop. Jesus is asking ‘will you have me as your king?’ What is your response? Will you make that commitment? Will you change gears in your life? Will you open your heart and ask God to come into your heart today afresh and anew to seek His forgiveness?”
In these challenging times, with lots of time to think while under 24-hour curfew and lockdown, Cartwright said people have time to think.
Cartwright said everyone needs forgiveness and know in their hearts they need to change more than ever before.
“We know we need to turn back to God and the things of God,” he said. “We know we need to pray as a family. We know we need to put God first in our lives and to make that commitment,” he said.
The Anglican priest said it was time for people to choose Jesus, and to choose love, peace, and humility.
Now, in Holy Week, Cartwright said it only seemed like yesterday when Lent began on Ash Wednesday, and people received their ashes on their foreheads and the priest expressed the sobering words – that they are dust, and to dust they would return.