It’s Holy Week, so I dug up a few old writings. Below are two very different pieces: first is the “about the song” paragraph that I wrote for the press kit. Second is the first of what someone named my Resurrection Letters. If you’re interested in the rest of the meditations, click here. I pray your celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus this week brings you great joy.
“Hosanna” is an old Hebrew word that means “Save us, now!”, which the Jews employed while they waved their palm branches and welcomed the Messiah into Jerusalem for the last time. Only in God’s Kingdom is a cry for help equal to a shout of praise. Once, the Jews asked Jesus for a sign to prove his authority. He declared that he would destroy the temple and rebuild it again in three days, a statement that I’m sure set them gasping and fanning their faces and running in circles. Some of them probably fainted dead away. The Gospel writer tells us that Jesus was talking about himself. But Jesus of Nazareth has plans to wreck us, too, and leave not one stone on another–-indeed, we should welcome it, because we know that Jesus has not just the power to lay waste, but to rebuild–-even his own body. And we all need rebuilding. This song is both a confession and a praise. To say to Christ, “Save me,” is to admit that you need saving, and also to acknowledge that only God is man enough to do it.
I. THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
Lord, forgive us.
We welcome you in because we think you’ll give us what we want. We act as if our true motives are hidden from you—you who made the world with a word. We spread our coats and wave our hands and cry “Save us!” and you ride with your back straight and your face drawn, accepting our hosannas because you know that even if the heart is false the words are true, and for now, that is enough.
You come in the name of the Lord. Son of David, you come to save us. You come to save a fickle people, who one minute cry for help and the next cry for blood, and it is both help and blood that you give us.
The sun shines hot on the city gate, and you feel the air move with the palm branches. You hear the hearts pumping in their chests. Their mouths cry “save us” while their hearts cry “give us what we want.” But because you are God you hear even deeper in the spirits of men and women and even children the silence of our profound loneliness. You hear the trickle of need we scarcely know ourselves.
You come to us though you know we’re praying to you for the wrong reasons, singing to you without the faintest notion of how powerful and just and holy you really are.
We don’t even realize the danger we’re in, crying for salvation from Caesar when the Devil himself is battering the door—crying like a baby for its bottle when a wolf is loose in the nursery.
And yet, you come.
You set your iron gaze on Jerusalem, and because the Father wants you to, you come.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.