As our Lenten journey nears an end, I am reminded of how easy it is to shout “Hosanna!” on Palm Sunday and “He is Risen!” on Easter Sunday without going through the agony of Jesus’ final week leading up to His crucifixion. I want to share with you the thoughts of Dr. Philip Gladden on the matter. He begins by sharing this poem by Ann Weems titled, “From Hosanna to Horror, the Only Road to Easter:”
Balloons maybe. If Jesus were coming here, maybe we’d line up on either side of His parade route and wave balloons as He passed. Back and forth…a multitude of colors, and we’d probably shout “Yay” instead of “Hosanna,” and we’d hold up homemade posters saying, “Welcome, Jesus!” as He passed by…probably in one of those bubble-top cars because the FBI would not want to be left out of this one…On the other hand, maybe He’d refuse and ride that donkey after all, or maybe even walk down the middle of the road with balloons bobbing as He walked. He’d wave to us and bless us. And we’d follow, and follow, and follow. What a celebration! What a Festival of Faith that would be! And when the parade passed by, we’d finally go home and look forward to the celebration next Sunday.
But what about Holy Week? The days lengthen, the pear tree flowers white outside my kitchen window…In the mysterious Lenten mix of lament and hope, the taunting, blood-splattered face of war screams into our lives, and we are tempted to despair. The TV bleeds and explodes and the unspeakably obscene inhumanity of war blares into our ears and our hearts – and we turn and run. Into a wall – the same wall we visit each Lent – trying to get around a Gate called Truth, trying to go from Palm Sunday straight to Easter morning, trying to keep from going into that courtyard where we must answer whether we know Him or not, trying to keep from going anywhere near that cross. So, give us the palms and give us a parade, but O God, whisk us right from Palm Sunday to that “great getting-up morning.” Have our Easter baskets filled and waiting for us, O God, because this year we’re tired and we’re scared and we just want a little peace and quiet. And so, we turn and run, or we kneel and pray for mercy and for miracles and the eyes to see this Jesus named Emmanuel – the eyes to see that God is with us.
Dr. Gladden continues, “During this Holy Week, as the Hosannas are still ringing in your ears, I encourage you to pick up your Bibles and read one or more of the gospel stories about Jesus’ final week. The fact that Mark devotes 37.5% of his gospel to this one week, Matthew 28.5%, Luke 23%, and John a whopping 47.6% ought to tell us how important this Holy Week is for our lives…” Something else you can do to make this Holy Week more meaningful is to attend our Maundy Thursday worship service and remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ suffering for us all.