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Sunday, March 28, 2021

Inspired by . . . Hosanna!

"The next day the great crowd of pilgrims who had come for the festival, hearing that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem, went out to meet Him with palm branches in their hands, shouting, 'Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!' "

Today is a day of adoration. The pilgrims, who had come from Galilee and other outlying areas, knew Jesus and loved Him. "Hosanna!" they cried. A far cry from the angry political and religious mob we hear just five short days later, shouting, "Crucify!"

Just the day before, Mary had anointed Jesus, pouring the costly pure oil of nard over His feet, and wiping it lovingly with her hair. Now, without understanding what they were doing, the pilgrims were choosing their Passover lamb. (Rev 7:9)

This lamb, traditionally chosen four days before the feast, was brought into their homes and hearts. Who hasn't looked into the sweet face of a baby lamb and felt their heart melt with tenderness? Imagine slaughtering this animal after it lived with you in your house, even for four short days, and we might get just a hint, a mere whiff of the agony of Christ's sacrifice.

It should break our hearts in two.

But those are meditations for Good Friday. Today we celebrate the coming of our King, as He enters His beloved city. The palm branches signify victory and on this side of the cross, we know Christ, victorious over death and the grave! (1 Cor 15:57)

The palm branches also reflect back to the Feast of the Tabernacles (Lev 23:40), which points forward... to Christ.

skēnoō - tabernacle
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14)

He came that we might know the Father and get a glimpse of heaven on earth. The pilgrims had a glimpse of the Divine and believed, declaring Him blessed and Israel's true King. Those in authority believed but refused to acknowledge Him because they valued their reputation rather than the honor which comes from God. (John 12:43)

Today, when you catch that glimpse of the divine, may your soul cry out, "Hosanna, oh, save!" and may you receive the blessing of salvation.


Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Inspired by . . . through suffering

Every year as I contemplate Lent, I am struck anew at just how long 40 days can be. In every other season, time seems to move at warp speed, but when you are sitting at the edge of a desert that you know will take forty, 24-hour days to cross, the time seems very long indeed.

Most years, and for most people, Lent is carried out amidst the regular hum of normal day-to-day life. There may be something given up or added to and more focused attention to the Bread of Life. But otherwise, things are relatively normal.

This year has been different.

To paraphrase something Henri Nouwen said: Lent is about trusting that God's love for us is stronger than death and that death, therefore, does not have the last word.

Jesus could go to the cross because, as a man, He trusted that God's love was stronger than death and, as God, He knew He was the proof of that strength.

Nouwen says, "The core message of Jesus is that real joy and peace can never be reached while bypassing suffering and death, but only by going right through them."

Yet, going through suffering does not guarantee joy and peace. The difference, I think, is trust. We are afraid that there is something other than love in God. We equate suffering with punishment. But this just shows how very little we know the mind of God. I admit I know Him very little. But more, I hope, today, than yesterday.

It goes back to what Nouwen said above about trusting God's love. It isn't until we believe, even in our incomplete understanding of His love, that He truly does love us, completely and without limits or conditions, that we will receive joy and peace in the midst of our suffering.

That is what is different about this year. What I gave up, thinking to replace with more of Him, has been all but lost in the overwhelming noise of silence. As He teaches me to listen for His loving presence in the midst of suffering.

Some of you are much farther along in this journey than I.

In the coming weeks, we will all see again just how much He loves us.