Holy Week begins on Sunday, April 9. The youth of Deer Park, Saint Andrew’s, and the Regional Youth Ministry will be leading us in our Palm Sunday observance. Shouts of “Hosanna” will ring from the rafters as the palm parade is re-enacted in our worship. (Just imagining that as I have no idea what the youth are planning. How good it is to have trusted leadership!)
The story from the scripture says that the people shouted, “Hosanna!” Almost always that is taken to mean praise and hallelujah. The people lined the streets and spread their cloaks and branches along the way to greet Jesus as they cried, “Hosanna!”
Jesus’ reputation had preceded him. The crowds had heard about the marvelous things he had done – healing the sick, forgiving the sinner, welcoming the children, and even raising the dead to life. No wonder they cried, “Hosanna!”
However, it’s not what you think. Hosanna from the Hebrew means, “Save us, we ask you.” Save us from our sin. Save us from our sickness. Save us from pain and terror. Save us from drought and famine. Save us from our enemies. Save us from ourselves.
Holy Week is a period of devotion to the passion or suffering of Christ. In Christ’s suffering, one beholds the pain of the world that God so loves. Fourteen people died in a terrorist attack on the St. Petersburg subway. At least 70 people have been killed in northern Syria after being exposed to a toxic gas that survivors said was dropped from warplanes. The United Church of Canada has launched an Extreme Hunger Appeal as the humanitarian crisis in Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen reaches grave levels. Suffering is all about and around us. Personal struggles. Global crises. Natural disasters. Climate change. Unemployment and underemployment. Refugees and no place to call home. Domestic violence. Hunger and poverty. Sickness and disease. Missing and murdered indigenous women.
We will do well to line the streets as it were and cry, “Hosanna.” Holy Week is not pleasant. It’s not about a build up to chocolate and Easter eggs and bright joyful colours. It’s about an approaching horror and terror that Good Friday brings. Holy Week is a devotion to suffering, and in the midst of that suffering crying out for ourselves and our world, “Hosanna!”