*title from Newsboys, "Breathe (Benediction)"
I found this today. I wrote it almost three years ago on Palm Sunday. It stemmed from a visit to a local church during a time I felt spiritually low. While our family has since found a (phenomenal, Spirit-filled) church home, the same nearly-bottomed-out feeling hits every few months. Thankfully, mine is a God of provision, and I am always reminded that my hosannas are heard.
Today I went to a church that felt more like home than any other has in recent months. I went back to my roots, my heritage, my heart. My Praise, my Call to Worship, my Confession, my Assurance of Pardon, my Proclamation, my Doxology, my Lord's Prayer, my Lord's Supper, my Benediction.
As I walked into the annex, I saw the children lined up holding their palm branches, too excited to hold them still... even they had a sense that today is something important. The children, accompanied by the choir, walked into the sanctuary waving palms and singing "Lift up your heads, ye mighty gates, behold the King of Glory waits; The King of Kings is drawing near; the Savior of the world is here!"
During the children's moment, the pastor read the verse that says "I tell you, if these keep quiet, the very stones will shout out!" He held up a Ziploc bag full of small rocks. He asked the children, "What if this was the stone that Jacob used as a pillow in the desert?" Picking up another he implored, "What if this is the one Moses used to write the 10 Commandments? What if this was David's stone that fell the giant? What if this rock was crushed when the stone rolled away from Jesus' tomb?" Giving his questions a moment to settle in, as much with the congregation as with the children, he finally said, "What if we leave it to the stones to shout?"
It is much debated within churches whether it is acceptable to clap during worship. Today as they exited to Children's Worship, kids and adults alike were instructed to clap and shout, "HOSANNA!" and, "HE IS COME!"
I don't know how I've gone 23 years without knowing this, or maybe I knew but have forgotten, but "Hosanna" is not a jubilant cry welcoming a rightful King. It is a desperate plea- "save ME, help ME, rescue ME!" The people who met Jesus on the road knew. They knew who He was, what He could do; so they shouted, they beseeched Him, "Me, Lord... me."
As is tradition in most Presbyterian congregations on the first Sunday of the month, the Sacrament was shared this morning. There are times throughout the liturgical calendar (Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord, Transfiguration of the Lord, Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week -Maundy Thursday and Good Friday-, Easter, Pentacost, Trinity Sunday, and Christ the King/Ascension Sunday) that I don't take communion. I don't take communion on Christmas and I don't take it on Easter. No one has ever told me not to, and some don't understand why I don't. I personally decided years ago that I didn't want to share the sacrament- the equivalent of His body and blood- on the day we celebrate His birth, or on His resurrection. However, I have sorely missed communion for a long long time. Palm Sunday is a day of bittersweet hope, it is Passion Sunday.
We continued through the Order of Worship.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen
"Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest...."
I have been having some heart-struggles the last few weeks. I needed cleansing. Communion has always had a restorative affect on me. As I held the bread- my Lord's body that was broken, bruised, and buried- I bowed my head, asking Him to take my heart- not broken, but plenty bruised- and fill it up with the bread of life. That He use this symbolic wheat and yeast to patch the growing holes.
"Breathe on me, breathe oh breath of God" Then again I bowed my head when I held the cup- His blood, spilled and shed for me- asking Him to use that liquid to wash away the anger and pain that I had been holding onto for far too long.
"Breathe on me, till my heart is new." Most of my prayers are requests that I lay so meekly at His feet asking in a very small voice "Hosanna, Lord. Help me"
"Breathe on me til I love like You do" Today I was filled with His body, cleansed with His blood, made ready to face the week ahead.
The preacher reminded us how easy it is to skip from the hopeful anticipation of Palm Sunday to the joyful proclamation of a Risen King on Easter. I hope that this week I do not skip the hard parts. There is no use in Easter, in fact there would be no Easter without the pain of the Last Supper, the stab of the betrayal, and the misery of Good Friday. But there is hope and there is joy and there is redemption. My Lord has stood in death's place for me. He has Risen and He reigns.
That is why my most lowly Hosannas are followed by incredible forgiveness and an unfathomable future with Him.