Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Hosanna to Hallelujah

  • That's right folks...It's Holy Week! This past Sunday I attended church here in Atlanta, and while they gave everyone a palm branch (for Palm Sunday), we never go to wave them! I mean, what is that? The choir processed in with the palm branches hidden lamely beneath their hymnals. I made a couple of attempts to wave mine, but nobody around me seemed to catch on. On the interstate on the way home, we were stuck in traffic, so Lindsey Wade and I rolled down our windows and waved our palms for all our fellow traffic sufferers to see. Not exactly a triumphal entry, but still.
  • The title of this post occured to me yesterday as I was sitting in Christology class. We were talking about Martin Luther's Heidelberg Disputation. At one point, he writes: "Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross." In the context of Holy Week, I thought this was interesting material to consider. I mean, isn't that what a majority of Christians in our society do? We show up for church on Palm Sunday, wave our palms (sometimes), cry out Hosanna, Hosanna, and celebrate that Christ has arrived, and then go home for a week, buy a nice new Easter outfit, and then show up on Easter Sunday to cry Hallelujah, Jesus Christ is Risen Today. Somehow, we go from glory to glory, and miss the humility and shame of the cross along the way. Yes, I know that some folks attend Good Friday services or Maundy Thursday services, but definitely not as many as are in church on the bookend Sundays of Holy Week. Why is it that we want to skip over Friday and Saturday? Does it remind us too much of our own brokenness? Are we afraid of what it means for God to die on a cross? Thankfully, Luther, and theologians to follow, remind us that the glory and majesty of God only make sense in light of the humility and shame of the cross. So, my challenge to you and to me is to spend some more time living in between the Hosannas and the Hallelujahs.
  • While I'm thinking about Luther, I thought I'd share another great quote, "Therefore sinners are attractive because they are loved; they are not loved because they are attractive." Yes, that's right, God does not love you because of all the good stuff you do, God does not love you because you go to church every Sunday, God does not love you because you have a pretty face, God does not love you because you give money to charity, God does not even love you because you've brought a thousand people to faith in Jesus Christ. God loves you in spite of all these things. God chooses to love us out of God's great love, and therefore, we are made attractive. We don't get any of the credit...none of it. Isn't that a liberating thought? God loves me, and has freed me from the bondage of sin, so now I'm free to live in relationship and according to God's will.
  • Finally, thanks to all of you who have read my previous posts about the struggle that goes into deciding where I will serve the church in the coming years, and have posted encouraging words/thoughts. I appreciate that.


Anonymous said...

Reading this made me think of grace. It's mysterious, especially, I believe, to many people in the world we live in. One of the hardest things for me to realize sometimes is that God's grace cannot be confined or contained. (I want it in a neatly marked package!) God finds us when we think our world is coming to an end and there is nothing more we can do and says, hello, stop believing in yourself and what YOU can do. And that is exactly the point. There is nothing we have done, nothing we can do. Even in the midst of suffering (on the cross) in our lives, there we find God's grace.