Holy Week always gets off to an auspicious and promising start doesn't it.
It's become fashionable for congregations to gather in public places, and then process through towns, villages and city streets, waving palms and shouting Hosanna, as they march to their sanctuaries, remembering the glorious parade that ushered Jesus into Jerusalem for the last week of his life.
But while this parade marked a time of hope that a new savior had come for the people, it turns out that the original Palm Sunday parade was more of a funeral procession than a march of triumph. It was not the welcome jubilee for a conquering hero, but an unwitting elegy by a group of people who did not understand the type of savior that had entered the city. They wanted a victorious savior. Instead, they got the savior they needed.
That day, nearly 2000 years ago, the crowd of people lined the streets of Jerusalem and shouted Hosanna, meaning "God Save Us!". Disillusioned by his failure to overturn the government of the oppressors, just a few days later, a few hours later, really, the very same people shouted "Crucify Him". acceding to the execution of Jesus, the one they had welcomed to dwell in their city a the savior of mankind. They didn't get the savior they wanted, but they got the one they needed.
Doesn't this ring true today as well? Don't we want a savior that will come into the world and fix all the problems for us?
That may be the savior we want, but it's not the savior we need.
The savior we need is not the one that led the Palm Sunday parade, but the one that was left beaten, denied, betrayed and abandoned - to die as a persecuted outcast, and one who pronounced forgiveness from the very seat of his own torture.
That's why Holy Week is so important. Not that we celebrate with parades, but that we sit and watch as the week's events unfold, and realize that the kind of savior we need, is so much more dear to us than the one which we think we need.
So when you worship later this week, remember that the savior you hope for is so rarely the one you actually get - but JESUS is the one, the only one you need.
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About this website
Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.