by Sue Awes
“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”
To the Romans looking on that day in Jerusalem it probably didn’t seem much like a royal procession, a triumphal entry. Where were the gilded chariots and mighty steeds? Where were the purple and gold painted togas and the laurel wreaths? Where was the red carpet?
The carpet, spontaneously laid, was made of branches and cloaks. Literally throngs of people were following and making quite a ruckus.
“Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!”, they shouted again and again. “Quiet!”, yelled the authorities. The man on the young donkey answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”, cried the people waving their branches in this moment of holy recognition. I wonder if they were remembering King David’s procession, 1,000 years before, leading the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem, dancing to the music of the band? How many years would it be before they connected the parade this day with the words of Zechariah spoken some 500 years before?
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
So on the corner of 9th Ave. and 2nd St. in Hopkins, Minnesota, this year like always we’ll meet in the basement and each get a palm branch. Christian will bless and we’ll march up the stairs and maybe if it’s a nice day we’ll go outside and parade around the church, waving our branches, and eventually follow into the sanctuary.
These processions will be happening all over the world as they have been for 2 millennia. One Palm Sunday we were in Vignale, Italy, a tiny hill town, with one church. Mel, being the daring and exuberant one, decided to join the local parade gathering outside the church at the hilltop. He was handed a huge palm branch and marched into church following the local priest and brown nuns who were somewhat crabbily keeping a passel of children in tow. He received more than one puzzled stare, an occasional frown and understood only one word. “Hosanna!”
He’s told the story so often that I sometimes think that I was there too, among the brothers and sisters. I wish I had been. But there are those of us who are naturally exuberant and want to march in the parade. And there are those of us who are naturally reticent and prefer to watch the parade.
I trust our hosannas ring out the same – and that around the world from Vignale to Helsinki, from Hong Kong to Hopkins, on this Sunday believers will in a moment of holy recognition see the King himself, raise their hosannas and enter the week we call Holy.