Several Christians around the country celebrated Palm Sunday in the comfort of their homes for the first time without shaking Palm leaves in celebration for Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem.
On this occasion as described in the book of Matthew in the bible, Palm branches and clothing were placed in Christs path, and this colorful event preceded his arrest and finally the much prophesied crucifixion on what is celebrated as Good Friday.
This marks the beginning of the Holy Week, and the final week of Lent.
As a culture, several Ugandans carried with them Palm leaves to church, a symbol of triumph, peace and victory. The palms have been religiously kept in houses, at the top of the door, roof tops and some keep it in their home alters.
Church without Palm leaves, almost looks unconsecrated, but the Sunday, 5th April 2020 will be remembered as a Palm Sunday celebrated without actual Palm leaves carried to church. This is because of the COVID-19 pandemic that has put the world business to a halt.
In Uganda, 48 cases have been confirmed of the COVID -19, and the country is in a lock down with gatherings beyond five people unacceptable.
Although a few people managed to get their hands on Palm leaves, keeping it home with them where they attended church service online, on television and radios. But many people did not have any Palm leaves.
In some sessions televised, Christians were asked to raise up their Palm leaves, or if they do not have them, just raise their hands and wave.
At St Charles Lwanga Parish Ntinda, Father Julius Bwobwe who preached from the Gospel of Mathew and the book of Psalms said that although Christians gathered physically at Christ’s triumphant entry, in Uganda today they gather spiritually to welcome Christ, waving their branches.
Bwobwe who led a sermon with an empty church asked Christians following him on media to wave their Palm leaves, and he blessed and prayed for them. He also prayed against the COVID-19 asking God to heal the world. The Christians were asked to make a prayer of a spiritual communion.
Bwobwe prayed for doctors to find cure for COVID -19, and also pray for healing of all those affected by the virus.
Dr Stephen Kazimba, the Archbishop Church of Uganda who at the palm Sunday service held in his home in Namirembe cathedral preached on Jesus’s triumphant entry to Jerusalem, and also prayed against Coronavirus. He asked Christians to remain prayerful in this season.
He also called on Christians to worship God and not church building.
At Watoto Church, where 14 of the Watoto childrens’ choir tested positive, the Associate team leader pastor Julius Rwotlonyo, updated Christians saying the children are in a stable condition, and that the arm of the lord is not too short to save them.
Rwotlonyo reminded Christians that this was a special Sunday, asking them to wave their Palms leaves and their hands for those who do not have Palm leaves. He says even in isolation, in quarantine centres and at homes, Christians should celebrate the triumphant entry of Christ.
Irene Namulwanda, says she grew up carrying Palm leaves, with joy, but today is different and they will stay home and maybe shake them from their sitting rooms.
She says the absence of palm leaves mean a lot.
Peter Kaujju, the Kampala Capital City Authority says he always went to church with palm leaves, but today he will celebrate and pray from home.
Gerald Siranda, a politician says that Christians should use the palm Sunday to pray against COVID 19, but also observe social distancing.
Minister for local Government, Raphael Magyezi says because
his palm leaves were blessed, he has been keeping it for a long time.