Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Palm Sunday’

HosannaI just did a brief review of the other posts I’ve done about Hosanna! Such a powerful word and so poorly understood. Certainly, during the time of Christ, it’s original meaning prevailed: Save us!

The next day the huge crowd that had arrived for the Feast heard that Jesus was entering Jerusalem. They broke off palm branches and went out to meet him. And they cheered:  Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in God’s name! Yes! The King of Israel! [John 12:12-13, The Message]

Of course, in today’s world, the idea of needing to be saved has been usurped by the “born again” crowd (and I can’t exclude myself from this group either).

But I know how off-putting it can be. I had only been a follower of Christ for a few weeks when a friend convinced me to attend his church, a Pentecostal church in upper Manhattan. It was my first time in a church since my teens and although I was sure of my new found elmer-gantry2faith, I had no answer when a well-meaning greeter asked me on my way out: “Are you saved Sister?”

What? Saved from what? All I could think about was Elmer Gantry or Robert Duvall’s The Apostle. So much fire and brimstone and drama. Are you saved?

And yet, Hosanna is proclaimed on Palm Sunday, the day we remember Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey. The people welcomed him and believed in his power to “save them.”

Art by Johannes Bengtsson

Art by Johannes Bengtsson

I have to say, hell-fire and brimstone were never the driving force behind my transformation from self-serving bohemian to Jesus freak. For me, it was pure revelation: truth became evident and indisputable. I could not call Jesus a lie. But I didn’t exactly feel saved either. I was, of course, but I couldn’t see that back then. I couldn’t see my own descent into the dark world of drugs, alcohol, and free sex. I was spiraling dangerously fast until Christ grabbed me by the hand and pulled me out of the maelstrom. But I dhelpidn’t really see it until much later, from a distance.

So, yes. I was saved. I am saved.

Perhaps the cry for us today is simpler: Help! Just help.

And Jesus answers: “I will.”

Read Full Post »

Laying down cloakAs he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road. When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”  [Luke 19:36-38]

Was this a little thing? Laying down one’s cloak on the road for Jesus to be trampled underfoot, not only by Jesus on a donkey but also the disciples and who knows how many more were in the entourage. And then, if my imagination is anywhere close to accurate, usually a crowd swells in behind the leader in the parade. By the time someone might return to the road, after the crowds have dissipated, poor cloak might be in quite the disarray. In fact, it might be good for nothing, only a rag.

I wonder, did their hope feel the same way when they realized that Jesus was not going to manifest as the Messiah in the way they thought he would? Did they look at those rags and begin to feel less enthusiastic, less sure. Perhaps the cloak was a gift from a friend or purchased with hard earned money. Would there be second thoughts? So often people get caught up in the crowd’s enthusiasm, only to find the aftermath less glorious.

I’m just saying.

I can’t help but think of other more contemporary masses: remember Woodstock? In the wonder of all that freedom, people did all kinds of crazy things, like take off their clothes, roll in the mud, get blind stoned, and so forth. I wonder how that felt when the pictures came out. Or what about soccer stadiums where anger and fury drive fans onto the field and sometimes trampling people? Or New Years celebrations with fireworks and guns shooting off but unknowingly striking a child who dies? It happens all the time. The crowd.

Our laying down cannot be driven by the crowd. If I am going to give up my coat (or anything else of value), then I have to give it so freely that it won’t matter if it comes back to me. I have to let go with intent, with consciousness, with understanding. I have to lay my stuff down with trust. Only in this way, will I avoid standing outside of Pilate’s palace yelling “crucify him.”

So often, in a kind of self-possessive way, I hear people say they don’t give money to the homeless because of what that person might do with it. After all, their money is what? Precious? Or, even worse, people who don’t give to the local church because they disagree with the use of the funds (like the color of the carpet or the size of the flowers on the altar). It’s kept back in the name of “stewardship.” But I am beginning to believe that attitude is like trying to retrieve the cloak laid down on the road on Palm Sunday.

If we give, we give freely and trust God to use the gift. If I lay down my stuff, I am not to pick it up again. If I am acknowledging that Jesus is truly the Messiah, the King of Kings, the Lord of my life, then what is the cloak in comparison to that? Who is asking? Who is this Jesus?

Read Full Post »

John 12:12b-13a
…when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “ Hosanna! … ”

Hosanna means “save us.” But unfortunately, the crowds who cried, “save us!” at the triumphal entry of Jesus in Jerusalem (now marked as Palm Sunday) did not particularly like his methods. In fact, by the time Passover had arrived, they realized he was not going to overthrow the Roman occupation in the way they expected. In fact, he was unwilling to declare his sovereignty over Israel at all.

I think Judas Iscariot suffered from the same disappointment. He had his own “mental model” of how things should go and finally, decided to take things into his own hands. Perhaps he believed that Jesus, once forced by the Sanhedrin to declare himself, would establish his kingdom. (This is just a personal interpretation of the Judas story.) In any case, Judas’s way changed the course of history.

But don’t both of these cases, the crowds of Jerusalem and Judas, mirror our own efforts to control the outcomes our circumstances? In prayer, we cry out for help, but when help comes, we don’t like it or worse, don’t recognize it (like the story of a man stranded on a roof in a flood and prayed for rescue but did not recognize God in the rowboat of a neighbor or the motorboat and helicopter of strangers–he drowned, by the way).

I think God is in the prayer answering business. All prayer is answered: we must learn to accept the answers. When we say God hasn’t answered our prayers, what we often mean is that God hasn’t answered us immediately and miraculously.

We sometimes err in thinking that the phrase “Your will be done … ” means that God can choose either to answer our prayers or not. But I really think it is just a reminder that we acknowledge and accept His answers because they will always be within His will. These are the only answers we should be interested in receiving.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: