Reflecting on Palm Sunday, when Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey greeted by crowds crying “Hosanna!” (meaning “Save us!”), I wrote a poem about some of the things we might need salvation from (and for).
If you connect with any of it, or have something you’d like to add, I’d love to hear.
On Palm Sunday The masses weren’t thinking of pie in the sky in the sweet by and by. They were unwashed and shouting and impolite and holy. They turned not to the strong-looking warrior in a suit of armor* but to the unarmed rabbi riding on a donkey. To him they yelled out, “Save us!” Save us, oh God, save us. I don’t know where we go when we die but I trust it’s a place of love, of peace, of communion and community. That’s the easy kind of salvation. But what we need is salvation now. Save us, now. We need it, now. Save us from the fears that tyrannize us and keep us unjustly silent. When we fear death, we fail to live. Save us from the forces that immobilize us when we could be on the move. Save us from those who want to save us with their own ideas, but do not know us. Save us from those who make their own plans for us and do not care for our wellbeing. Save us from callousness. Save us to care. Save us to become soft spaces where weary ones can land. Save us when we are those weary ones; make room for us then, too. Save us from the ones who want our sacrifices but do not want us to flourish, from those who want us to value everyone else but ourselves. Save us to choose us. Save us from the lie that we can do it on our own, or we are superior if we do. Move us to lean on one another and become those who can be leaned on. Save us from our dreams of greatness for ourselves, at the expense of others. Make our hearts happy for those who rejoice; their successes, our own. Save us from untimely death, from officers’ guns and civilians’ assault rifles, from anti-abortion laws that care nothing for women’s lives. We simply want to live, to not be robbed of years. Save us from accusations of weakness when we weep. Save us from our own survival strategies, self-destructing by holding onto habits that served us well once, but not anymore. Save us to feel, and in so doing, to hope again. Save us from constricting notions of masculinity and femininity. Save women from being trampled on. Save men from thinking they’re manly for doing the trampling. Save us all to be more fully human, compassionate and strong. Save Earth who trembles and breaks and rises up to protest what we’ve done to her. We cannot survive without her. Save her, God. Save us from those who say “peace” when there is no peace, who suppress the voices of those who suffer. Save those who have no homes from abuses hurled at them because they are vulnerable. Save us from pastors who think they know best but do not listen, do not know, choose not to know. What they teach will not save us. We need more. Save us from the judgment of those who think they are holy. Free us from the need to conform ourselves to their expectations of what righteousness looks like. Save us from self-righteous Christians and from the self-righteousness within us. Save us from power-hungry politicians. Save us from every force that silences, every burden that oppresses. Save us from injustice. We carry the weight of it, and we perpetrate it too. Save us. Save us, God. Hosanna. *This is a reference to Roman imperial governor Pontius Pilate's simultaneous entrance into Jerusalem on the other side of the city. Empire's military power vs Jesus'...very different kind of power.