“Rise in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32 (PHS Biblical Framework)
Palm Sunday launches the Christian observance of “Holy Week,” the days leading to the Lord’s Table, the Cross and the Resurrection. Today and throughout this week we share how these holy days guide our ministry every day.
Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem was a procession of honor. The Gospel of John, 12:12-15, tells how Jesus rode in on a donkey, which to his people represented royalty and humility. A crowd rose up along the path placing palm branches on the ground before Him. They shouted, “Hosanna!” which doesn’t mean “Hail!” as might be shouted out to a political ruler. It means “Help us!” acknowledging the need for a savior. Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem to give his life on a cross and, in his resurrection, overcome the power of death.
Presbyterian Homes & Services often holds a “Procession of Honor,” calling the community to rise whenever there is a death of a resident. The Procession of Honor begins as the body is lovingly escorted to the front door of the community—leaving through the same door where the resident first entered the community. Employees, neighbors and family members line the halls in respect as the procession passes by. This gives everyone in the community who have known and cared for that individual an opportunity to be present and mourn together.
The Procession of Honor, like Palm Sunday, calls us to stand in the presence of a life that belongs to God. We could proclaim “Hosanna, help us!” because, like Palm Sunday, this act of honor prepares our hearts to face the reality of death, yet live into the hope of resurrection.
Beyond the practice of the Procession of Honor, we rise before Jesus every day to care for the people we serve in his name. When we rise in the presence of the aged and show respect for the elderly, we honor him.
To “rise” means more than simply standing up. We rise when we offer our very best in service and care. We rise when we do what we said we would do, and then seek ways to do it better. We rise when we meet a demand or challenge willingly and with fortitude. We rise when we strive to learn and grow in our skills, knowledge, wisdom and faith. We rise when we advocate on behalf of older adults and stand firm against ageism.
As we enter into this Holy Week, we invite you to rise with us and reach out to an older adult in your life. Each day will bring us an opportunity to follow Jesus and serve those he loves.