HARLINGEN — Where there’s faith, there’s a way.
The Rev. Charlie Palmer, pastor of Treasure Hills Presbyterian Church, on Sunday found that if you hold it they will come.
Social distancing doesn’t mean church services need to be suspended, as long as you have a creative streak and a parking lot.
Drive-In Church services were held at Treasure Hills, where around 35 vehicles participated in Palm Sunday services simulcast on FM 87.9, keeping with advice to minimize the spread of COVID-19 by limiting human contact.
“We’re encouraging you to keep your windows up and your air-conditioning on for safety reasons and to stay in your vehicles, so thank you for cooperating,” Palmer told his congregation.
“It’s a healthy way to gather and to praise God and to stay safe at the same time,” he added.
Wearing a mask, Harlingen City Commissioner Michael Mezmar spoke prior to the service and noted that although he is now in money management, he used to be a nurse-practitioner.
“I studied pandemics, and I’ve always waited for one to come. I hope I don’t sound odd, and it’s here,” he said.
Mezmar said city officials have been active in consulting with the governor, the school district and others, and that city officials are briefed multiple times each day with updates.|
“We are very active. There are 11 new cases in Harlingen as of last night reported this morning,” he said. “All of them were related to people who knew people who had the disease. So it’s very important not to hang out with people, not to visit people, not to go do things with masses of people and you’ve got to think about if you’re going to HEB, Lowes or Home Depot or someplace, do you really need that item and do you really need it now?
“This is an exponential disease where it goes like that and we’re in the sharp end of the curve here,” he said. “It’s important for all of us in Harlingen and the country to stay away from everybody and this is a brilliant concept and a brilliant idea, and I thank you all for doing what you’re doing today.”
As the service itself began, Palmer noted that just as on Palm Sunday in the Holy Land, the audience here in the parking lot also could shout their praises of Jesus as he entered the city of Jerusalem.
“Just like we gather here in Harlingen for the July Fourth parade, or the Christmas parade, we have the Rose Parade and the Macy’s Parade that we watch on TV, that was the first parade, when they gathered to praise Jesus and to yell those hosannas and shout to him,” Palmer said.
“So we’re going to do one in a different kind of way,” he added. “Instead of us yelling ourselves, we’re going to do a horn blow. We’re going to beep the horn for three seconds and imagine those are the shouts for Jesus coming into Jerusalem.
“One. Two. Three,” he shouted as car horns blared upward into the grey overcast sky. “That’s loud and memorable, and it must have been memorable back when Jesus was welcomed into Jerusalem as their king and their savior.”
People need to be filled with spiritual strength and faith, he said.
“Sometimes we think we are doing this all by ourselves, but the Lord is with us the whole time just like he was with them…” he said about Jesus and his disciples. “We’re not alone. God cares and God is working in our lives and working in our communities and working in the world around us to bring good out of all that’s going on.”