Join In the Song

By Reverend Amanda

What does it mean to be invited to join in the song? How many of you would be completely comfortable walking through the streets singing as loudly as you could? How many of you are even comfortable singing anywhere where others might hear you? I, too, had this fear as a much younger version of myself. I loved singing well enough though to at least be comfortable singing in a group setting. As a freshman in college back in the fall of 2001, I wanted to join the on-campus choir. I missed the community of belonging to a choir and I thought it would be a good way to meet people and make friends. However, as I looked at the course schedule, I realized that it conflicted with another mandatory class I had to take. Then, I saw that the campus Gospel Choir fit well into my schedule so I joined that.

This talented group of singers taught me a whole new meaning behind jubilantly exalting the Lord. Every concert would last at least 3 hours. We processed into the auditoriums and churches down the aisles singing and dancing, clapping our hands to the beat (unless you were me in that case your clap was half a step behind everyone else’s). The joy and the exaltation of the Lord could be felt by everyone in those seats and by the people outside the building as well. So when I think of the Hosanna Loud Hosanna from our scriptural hymn this morning, this is the image that is brought to my mind.

I see people standing along the sides of the road clapping their hands, raising their voices in song and praise, laying down their palms and their cloaks completely caught up in the moment, in the presence of the Spirit. Though those crowds were there in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover, they saw the message of the Lord and allowed themselves to be wrapped up in the joy of the moment, in the hope that it ignited in the hearts of those who looked on. Christ was giving a spectacular sign to the peoples, to the masses that would soon enough turn on him. In those moments, they cried “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord”[1], in Greek this translates as Hosanna.

But what did Hosanna really mean? Did it mean the same thing to ancient Israelites as it does to us? These are the questions that have plagued my waking thoughts since I can remember. Hosanna means “Save now” to us this is salvation from the grips of death, salvation from sin. But for Jesus’ contemporaries in Jerusalem, they had a different understanding of “save now”. They looked for salvation all right. They wanted a savior, a messiah, to lead them out of bondage and into a time of plenty, a time of independence as Moses had done for their people many generations earlier.

They sought for the foretold military leader who would be backed by the might of God who would smite the Romans and destroy them reestablishing Israel as the dominant power in the region. Jesus let them to believe this; he let them have their moment of hope and joy. From their moments of distress, the people were allowed to have the healing power of complete joy in the Lord. Bryant McGill writes, “Witness each moment in astounded jubilation. Take every holy breath in gratitude. Rejoice in life”![2]

Jesus came to show them that God was going to liberate them as he had done under the leadership of Moses but this time the liberation was going to be different. God was not going to liberate them from the rule of another empire, from the influence of pagan outsiders but rather God was going to liberate them from the finality of death. God was giving them a savior who would liberate them from the emotional and spiritual control and abuse of those who were in power, those who falsely claimed to work in God’s name, when in reality they worked for their own wealth and desires.

In our worlds, we are called to live into that excitement because unlike the people of Jerusalem we understand the spiritual implications of the salvation being offered to us. We do know that Jesus sacrificed himself and was raised three days later for our liberation from the abuse of others and for the liberation of our souls from perishability. So feel the joy, feel the excitement of the coming Easter, of Christ alive in our hearts and in our lives. Let’s offer him our palms, our cloaks, and our voices in praise for his coming. For although, the Messiah didn’t come as people predicted in his time, the Messiah did come and still offers all peoples liberation and new life. Our scriptures say, “The whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest’!”[3]

So go forth into this Holy Week, ready to sing your praises for the gift of Christ to our lives, for the offer of forgiveness, for the new beginnings and new life we have received because of the events of Jesus’ last days of life and final victory over death. Find one thing for each day to sing your praises for, and look and see the gifts of Christ all around you. Remember that Christ sacrificed himself because of his love for each of us and that is a love so deep and so pure that it transcends all the stress, anxiety, and pain of this world. No matter what our lives look like from year to year, the one constant is that we are loved unconditionally by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So let us embrace this unconditional love allowing for our souls to join in the song of praise and thanksgiving this Holy Week giving this joy permission to transform our hearts and our lives into instruments of God’s love.

[1] Luke 19: 38, RSV.

[2] Bryant McGill, 21st century human potential thought leader, author, activist, and social entrepreneur.

[3] Luke 19: 37-38, RSV.