Palm Sunday commemorates Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem the week before his crucifixion and marks the beginning of what many Christians observe as Holy Week. An enthusiastic crowd carrying — according to John’s Gospel — “branches of palm trees” (12:12-15, NRSV) welcomes Jesus as royalty. According to the Gospel of Mark, “Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! . . . Hosanna in the highest heaven!’” (11:8-10).
American artist William Hemmerling draws on the folk culture, customs, and experiences of the southern United States for inspiration and energy in his art. The cover art for this issue, “Palm Sunday,” is a wonderful example of Mr. Hemmerling’s work and the spiritual themes he likes to explore. “Palm Sunday” offers a unique and striking representation of those who gathered and those who continue to gather to welcome Jesus.
We invite you to read the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-10, Luke 19:28-40, and John 12:12-19) and then ponder Mr. Hemmerling’s work. What do you see? What do you feel? What do you think the artist is trying to communicate? Were you to create your own depiction of Palm Sunday, what would it look like?
As you study this piece of art and reflect on the events of that day some two thousand years ago, we hope you will discover something new in the story — something that helps you experience more fully the complexity and richness of the Lenten season.
Cover photo courtesy of LA ART GALLERY. © 2001. Prints of cover art are available from firstname.lastname@example.org or www.hemmerlingart.com.
Beatrice Smith delivers copies of The Upper Room daily devotional guide to a retirement home in Cape Town, South Africa. "Residents are delighted to receive the magazine," she says of a recent visit. Learn more about the international editions of The Upper Room here.