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Colorado Springs church focuses on symbols of peace on Palm Sunday

By: Chhun Sun
April 9, 2017 Updated: April 10, 2017 at 2:12 pm
Caption +
Munchkin the Miniature Donkey leads the Palm Sunday parade from First Congregational Church on Sunday, April 9, 2017. The parade went around the block in downtown with stations representing stories about the life of Jesus. Palm Sunday falls on the Sunday before Easter and represents when Jesus rode a donkey into the holy city. Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette

When the children saw Munchkin the donkey for the first time inside the First Congregational Church, they were excited just at the thought of being able to pet the animal.

But the Rev. Nayiri Karijan wanted the children to have a fuller understanding of the donkey's purpose on this Sunday. She asked if they knew what the animal represented in biblical terms.

One child shouted: "Peace!"

Then, the reverend held out a toy horse and asked what it represented.

A child shouted: "War!"

It was a moment that was both educational and fun on Palm Sunday, the final Sunday of Lent and the last Sunday before Easter that celebrates the biblical account of Jesus' triumphant entry into Jerusalem astride a donkey. A donkey symbolizes Christ's humbleness as well as his coming in peace, as opposed to someone riding a steed of war.

Earlier in the day, churchgoers walked around the church's block in downtown Colorado Springs with Munchkin to recreate Jesus' arrival and the beginning of Holy Week preceding his crucifixion and resurrection.

On Sunday, the altar was decorated with palms, representing what adherents waved or threw in his path as Jesus rode into Jerusalem.

The Rev. Jacque Franklin's sermon tied Jesus' journey to Jerusalem to the recent apparent chemical weapon attack in Syria.

"I thought, 'This is it! This is what He was talking about," Franklin said, referring to her reaction to the attack. "Instead of rising up, we see those people (who died in the attack) as people and not objects of war."

Then, she talked about the U.S. responding by bombing an air base in Syria and implied that the best way to respond is through peace.

"Isn't it time to let go of the triumphant, egoistical grab of power?" she said.

Karijan also focused on peace when she introduced the children to the donkey, telling them that Jesus' entrance to the holy city was God's promise of peace.