We are entering Holy Week, the most sacred week in the Christian calendar. A time of remembering. A time to ponder. A time to be thankful. A time to celebrate.
The Sunday before Easter is Palm Sunday, one of my favourite Sundays to celebrate as a child. We made Palm branches, waved them and shouted Hosanna.
It is striking that these Hosannas rang out just a few days before the barbarian crucifixion of our Lord.
A few weeks ago I re-posted a blog I wrote called from Pain to Praise, the story of deep pain my first husband experienced in the ravages of cancer and how through prayer and praise we found relief.
I was reminded of that as I pondered this Hosanna celebration in the midst of the collective suffering our world is having in the midst of the pandemic. I cannot watch the news without tears for those who are suffering. I have tears for the brave, for the nurses and all the medical staff who show up and care for the sick. I have tears for those who suffer alone because their family cannot be present.
As days turn into weeks and we are told will be months, it is easy to feel despair and deep sadness. And I’ve been asking myself, how do we turn that into peace?
Jesus, who is called our Prince of Peace, rode into Jerusalem that day, fully knowing his death was near. He was not immune to suffering, in fact he suffered for us.
I’ve heard some Christians feel they are immune, that God will protect them. I cannot agree. We don’t know how it all will turn out. We are all called to obey our governments and health authorities. We are asked to stay home. We are also called to care for those who are sick, lonely, poor. Many are finding creative ways to do this safely, or to support those on the front lines with dollars, resources, and encouragement. As much as we cry out for protection, we can also echo Jesus words the night before he died: “Your will be done.”
In the midst of these challenges I was drawn to praise. Hosanna in the dictionary means this: (especially in biblical, Judaic, and Christian use) used to express adoration, praise, or joy.
So this week as we cry out our Hosannas, it seems to me that gratitude is a pathway to joy. And there is so much to be grateful for.
Here are a few of my gratitudes this morning: I’m grateful for a warm home, and food, enough for us and to share. I’m grateful for my family and that we can share moments online. Storytelling and art with them has brought me joy this week. I’m grateful for my church community, and how they reach out to each other, we are a community caring for one another, even though we are apart physically. I’m grateful for dear friends I can talk to. I’m incredibly grateful for the hospital where I serve as chaplain. My friends and the workers there are champions in my eyes, and I continue to pray for them daily as I find ways to support them. I’m grateful to God, for the gift of presence, God is with us, we are not alone.
There is so much more… but it is true. Gratitude and praise can be a springboard to joy.
Hosanna! Praise be to God. We are not alone.
Here is a colouring page, I created, you can also get it from the Facebook page and use it to colour.