Submitted by the Rev. Jaime Nieves
Pastor, Yuma United Methodist Church, Yuma, Colorado
In joyous and creative celebration of Palm and Easter Sundays, residents in certain Central American countries – such as Guatemala, Antigua, and Honduras – make alfombras (or “carpets” in Spanish) made of colored sawdust, fruit, vegetables, sand, and flowers. These “carpets” line city streets and span over several blocks – a few are even a mile long.
In Central America, the art of alfombra making is sacrificial in nature – just like Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for mankind, so the people dedicate themselves to making these beautiful street carpets only to see them destroyed by people and animals trampling over them. As soon as the procession passes the alfombras, the cleaning team is right behind them clearing the sand and sawdust, leaving just a few speckles of sawdust of what were once unique works of art.
Yuma UMC church family members of all ages shared a wonderful, sacred time of fellowship creating our beautiful paper alfombra, which adorned the center Sanctuary isle on Palm Sunday. And, mirroring our distinctive eastern plains creation, our Palm Sunday message is a bit different: to honor the journey of Jesus that begins happily, but ends tragically. We want to make Jesus’ journey easier. To cushion Jesus’ battered feet, to soothe Jesus’ tired eyes, and to let the last thing Jesus experiences before the betrayal, be acts of devotion, kindness, and beauty.
The congregation was invited to take the beauty of our physical alfombra and create spiritual alfombras – thinking of things we can each do, in our own daily lives during Holy Week, to make Jesus’ journey easier. We might sing the most beautiful song we know (at the top of our lungs!) to encourage Jesus, or pray with a broken heart to Jesus. We might visit a loved one in the nursing home or hospital, write a long-overdue letter of apology to someone we’ve wronged, feed a hungry person, create a piece of art, or walk a mile – barefoot – in solidarity with Jesus. This is our way of letting Jesus – and all of our brothers and sisters who are in the midst of difficult journeys in their lives – know they’re not alone.