Hosanna in the highest

Published 1:57 pm Monday, April 6, 2020

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By Scott Baker

As Palm Sunday approaches with the reality of churches being closed and unable to observe the beginning of the most holy season of the church year I began to wonder about the notion of absence. Meaning, to be absent from an event or an occasion for one reason or another.

Just because one is unable to attend, doesn’t mean one is not present.

Imagine if you will, the occasion of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem with the throng of people laying palm fronds and their garments on the road as he made his way into the city. Imagine further, that you had been looking forward to his arrival with bated breath and breathless anticipation. Imagine even further, that for one reason or another you were unable to be present. You got sick. You had to work. You had to care for a sick relative or friend. Just because you couldn’t attend, didn’t mean that you weren’t there in spirit. You could let your imagination carry you to the very roadside and imagine what it must be like to see this prophet and miracle worker that some were even calling the Son of God. Would you be disappointed you weren’t there in person? Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean you couldn’t turn all your mental and emotional energy to that curbside and be as present as possible in all but aspects except bodily.

This little mental exercise is where most Christians and others of faith find themselves in this point and time in our lives. We long to be present to observe the most holy season of Holy Week, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and concern for our brothers and sisters and our community as a whole, we are challenged to use our imaginations and observe the season the very best way we can. We can still read the passion narrative from one of the four gospels. We can still use our imaginations. We could even take a walk imagining that we are walking alongside of the donkey carrying him who is called the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

For in the time we find ourselves, our imaginations might be the best we have until social distancing is behind us. As Palm Sunday dawns, and we let our imaginations run wild, the shout of Hosanna in the highest takes on a whole new meaning. Hosanna means, “Save, I pray thee.” Save, I pray thee, O Lord most high. Like those who lined the roadside 2,000 years ago, we long to be liberated not just from our self-imposed quarantine, but also from our sins, our brokenness and the changes and chances of this life.

Hosanna in the Highest, indeed!

THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 562-4542.