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Jen Pollock Michel

( author + writer + speaker )

Filtering by Tag: Easter

Breaking the Bread of Belief: The Ache of Home

jenmichel@me.com

Home Image courtesy of Joetography

“What would you say if [insert name of major technology company] hired me to lead their insurance brand?”

My reaction to Ryan’s question startles me.

“I don’t know. Where are they headquartered?’

California, of course. And then I’m lost in reverie, wondering how well I’ll fit into California. I plan to lose weight.

What surprises me is that I am not terrified at the thought of moving again, of packing up the house and making life elsewhere, no matter how desperate my desire for home sometimes feels.

For the bulk of my life, I’ve been a nomad. I was born in Indiana, and we followed my father as he finished graduate work (Missouri, Ohio) and moved systematically from assistant professor (Eastern Tennessee) to associate professor (Western Tennessee). All that packing up and making life elsewhere: our family incurred the debt of uprootedness for a career my father would ultimately abandon - because teaching communications at small liberal arts’ colleges isn’t the easiest way to fund a child’s college education. My father ended up with white-collar executive work that paid that bills (and, by the way, failed to fund happiness). We settled in Ohio. My mother is still there. But my father is not. I was nearly nineteen when he died, twenty-three when my brother followed him.

There’s no place like home, it is said.

But this is the refrain aching in me: there’s no place that’s home.

Home is so fundamental to what I long for. My best friend from high school was born in the town where we went to high school and returned there before giving birth to her first children (twins). These last ten years, she has remained there, making, what feels to me, the most fondly familiar life. Although I do not regret missed occasions of spontaneously running into the boys I dated in high school (here’s where an international border is something of great comfort), I feel envious of her stability. She has something I have never had and may never will: she belongs to a place. She has permanence. I feel myself almost covetous for it.

There’s no place that’s home.

And here we are, Ryan and I and our five children, making home together in a country that is not our own. We may wish to stay, but it will not ultimately be ours to decide.

I wonder: will home forever be this contingent? This provisional?

The aching again.

And then Easter week. The Scripture readings. I’ve read these passages a thousand times. I find myself doubting I will perceive anything new.

But the Spirit sets afire the words, and they roar into blaze. It is Monday. We are gathered as a family after dinner, around the table, around the Words.

Jesus presides over his last meal with his disciples.

“I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”

Maybe it’s the word, desired, that catches my attention. What has Jesus desired in these last moments before his betrayal? What are his longings, and how does he ache?

He desires a meal. He longs for communion around a table. And he sees this final meal as the anticipatory act of another meal. “I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

And suddenly, it’s upon me that salvation (to use a word that feels religiously odd and abstract) is a homecoming.

Think of the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The theologians tell us that this Parable may have been Jesus’ most important. He was giving us a way to understand God, a way of understanding ourselves, a concrete means for putting categories to the abstraction of this religious idea: we must be saved?

The story tells us of the lost son. He skips town, having demanded his inheritance and dishonored his father. It speaks of the older brother, corrupted by his pride and self-righteousness. And it insists upon a father, whose patient and hopeful mercies are his own means of humiliation.

The father awaiting the homecoming.

Will home always feel this contingent? This provisional? And these are the questions that the Easter people know how to answer.

No.

Because Jesus has eagerly desired to eat a meal with us. He’s gone to prepare the table. But to set the table with wine and bread, it would be necessary to break his own body and spill his own blood.

Because someone has to pay for the spoiled inheritance and the Father’s dishonor. Good Friday is necessary for Easter, a sacrifice essential for the meal.

“For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.” Psalm 39:12

I, the guest: and Jesus has eagerly desired my company at his feast.

Is this the Easter story? And my salvation an eternal homecoming?

We may move to California. We may stay in Toronto. Or Chicago may call us back. I will fear the contingencies and regret the nomadic legacy, wishing for more permanence and feeling the ache of home.

But in all that longing, I will think of the future feast.

To be shared in the city of God.

Christ has died. Christ is risen. And Christ will come again.

* * * * *

This is the third in a series of posts entitled, "Breaking the Bread of Belief."

1. "First Words of Faith"

2. "Lenten Faith in Dust"

Breaking the Bread of Belief: Lenten Faith in Dust

jenmichel@me.com

Dust Image courtesy of Joetography

Dust is the symbol of Lent.

Remember that you are dust. And to dust you shall return.

Humanity is constituted of dust.

In the second chapter of Genesis, we are taken to the scene where God makes the first human being. The Divine stoops low and scoops into his eternally creative hands a handful of dust. What can be made of this pile of dirt? And what imaginative vision will be required for beholding shape and form, even dignity in so inauspicious a mound?

“The LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

The LORD God.

As Hagar understands and names him, He is the God who sees (cf. Gen. 16:13). It is the imaginative vision of the LORD God, a vision as wide as the universe and as long as eternity, that beholds what humanity can become.

As a writer, I have curiosity for these questions: Who am I? Where do I find myself? What purpose does my life serve? My appetite as a writer is as I describe it in my book: “Words [are] the instinctual way I puzzle out the world. They are the tools I take to my mysteries, as if by them I can carve up who I am and where in this big world I find myself.” And if there is something I find easy to believe about myself, it is that I am dust. To believe myself to be dust takes no grand effort of energy. It is a truth hung visibly around my neck, a blinking neon advertisement.

Dust.

Yesterday, we are hurrying out the door for church. I am operating on four hours of sleep. When Nathan chastens Andrew angrily, “Hurry up! Get your shoes on!” I peer from the top of the stairs and say, “Ask him gently, Nathan. There’s no need to be rude.” But when I look to find Andrew sitting obstinately in the middle of the mudroom, unflinching at the necessity of haste, I scream. “Get your shoes on!”

Dust.

Dust has obvious knack for failing the standard of heroic.

No, to believe that I am dust – my lifespan but a faltering wisp in eternity’s winds despite all I do to immortalize myself– is not difficult.

Dust.

But to believe that God has imaginative vision for dust, that God grants dignity to his dirt, that God is mindful of every human creature, numbering their hairs, collecting their tears, and counting their days?

This will require faith.

But I think it is a Lenten faith, the very faith that will usher us into the miracle of Easter where God once again stoops low, this time constituting his own being into dust, becoming like us that he might, in a body, mount this massive campaign of persuasion:

You are dust. And I have loved you with an everlasting love.

* * * * *

This is the second in a series of posts entitled, "Breaking the Bread of Belief."

1: "First Words of Faith: In the beginning"

"To believe in a purposeful, coherent architecture to the stories of our brokenness requires faith.

To believe in an Architect - with a will for good in the midst of pain - is and only ever will be apprehended by faith."

Also, for your Holy Week, you may want to revisit the prayers I wrote several years ago:

Holy Week Prayers: Hosanna

Holy Week Prayers: To See and to Love Holy Week Prayers: Betrayals

Holy Week Prayers: The Surprise of Grace

Holy Week Prayers: Healing the Divide

Holy Week Prayers: The Friday that was Good

Holy Week Prayers: Saturdays of Doubt and Fear

Holy Week Prayers: Resurrection Morning

Holy Week Prayers: Resurrection Morning

jenmichel@me.com

Passages for Reflection: Luke 24, John 20-21 Father in heaven,

You made a world over which it is Your authority to rule. You are never forced into action, never compelled, never obliged. All that You do is of Your free intention and inexpressible delight. You are free, and the freedom that You have to do what is right and good is a freedom that we cannot begin to understand. And yet the Scriptures tell us that it was necessary that the Christ suffer at the hands of evil men and three days later, rise and enter His glory. The necessity of the death and resurrection of Your Son means that forgiveness cannot be had any other way. We cannot be sorry enough for the ways that we fail You. We cannot try to tip the scales in our favour by heaping up a lifetime of good deeds. Forgiveness is not ours to earn, but it is Yours to freely give. You are free to give it because sin's debt has been paid in full. The Innocent has been given for the guilty, the Holy for the unholy, the Pure for the impure: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

This Easter morning, we do not find Him in a tomb. The angels have announced Your irrevocable victory over sin and death. What has long been Your enemy, You defeated when Jesus drew breath after being three days dead. When on the first Easter morning, He sat up and unwrapped His grave clothes, there must have a celebration that Heaven had never before seen. The singing, the feasting, the dancing, the celestial parade! He who was dead is ALIVE, and now the great Accuser whose sceptre is death and destruction, he has suffered a fatal wound. Jesus is the King of a new Kingdom. He has re-inaugurated the reign of truth and beauty and goodness.

Our hopes are fully set in You. We knew that the Easter story is a folk tale to many. It is not credible to people whose universe is the substance of sight. And even your disciples were slow to absorb the miracle of Easter. Peter saw the empty tomb and left bewildered. Mary Magdalene met the angels who announced He had risen, and still she persisted in her crying. Thomas vehemently refused the testimony of his friends: "Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe!" We are stubborn skeptics, every one of us, and the Easter story will threaten to make us fools in our world of Enlightened arrogance.

Oh, fools that we would be for Jesus! Fools that we would be for the God-Man whose back bore our beatings, whose innocence substituted for our criminal guilt, for the Jesus who could not be found on Easter morning! Oh, fools that we would be for Him and for the cause of truth and justice. Oh, fools that we would be for the proclamation of repentance and the forgiveness of sins! Oh, fools that we would be in this world passing away for the world yet to come! Fools that we would be for our humility, our generosity, our self-sacrifice, our willingness to forgive, and our courageous love. We have learned these at the feet of Jesus, and You have promised to make us like Him.

This Easter morning, receive our praise all across this spinning world that we inhabit by Your grace. Grant faith to each of us who are slow to believe. Grant forgiveness to those of us who've failed to find hope in self-effort. Grant love to Your church, which You've commissioned for Your work. And come again, Lord Jesus, to finally establish Your kingdom and make complete your rescue from our great enemies of sin and death.

In the resurrected hope of Jesus! Amen.

Holy Week Prayers: Saturdays of Doubt and Fear

jenmichel@me.com

Passage for Reflection: John 19:16-42; Luke 24:13-27 Father in heaven,

You are a promise-keeping God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Through him, You promised that all of the nations of the earth would be blessed. How is it that You incline Yourself to generosity so abundant and free? We know that there is no one among us who deserves anything beyond Your severe judgment, and yet through the Scriptures, You reveal Yourself as a God looking for every opportunity to bless and to forgive. You are the God who saves Nineveh, the God who redeems Israel, and the One who sends His Son to renew all of creation.

You attend to the details of all You've ever spoken and promised. You brought your Son into the world through a virgin. Born in Bethlehem, he would flee to Egypt and eventually settle in Nazareth. He who proclaimed good news to the poor and liberty to the captives, who gave sight to the blind and set at liberty those who were oppressed, He was the announcement of Your Jubilee! How good His coming and how right the way in which He came, stepping into the shoes of promise.

But the Scriptures predicted for Him promises that were also cruel. His would be a violent death, and He would face unimaginable suffering. Numbered among the transgressors, a man despised and rejected, Jesus was betrayed by a friend and executed like a criminal. The soldiers would gamble for his tunic. From the cross, He would grow thirsty. And when His breath was finally no more, a sword would pierce His side.

This story was written before the dawn of time.

Today is the day of our silence: we have witnessed the crucifixion and shouldered its perplexity. The disciples long ago struggled to make sense of if all. And there are so many times in our life, Great God, when we stand in our own gap of confusion - between Friday and Sunday, between death and resurrection, between dashed hopes and answered prayers. We do not bear our doubts well, and we are easily made afraid.

The gospel writers make the story all too easy for us. With a little bit of hindsight and on the other side of Easter, they were able to piece together what You had been doing all along. They were able to say with confidence how, even in the Cross, it had been Your purpose to fulfill the Scriptures. But they say nothing about the Saturday of our doubts and fears, the Saturday of our almost giving up and giving in. We only have glimpses of disciples convening behind locked doors, cowering and confused.

Great God of mercy, Great God of promise, grant us faith to look ahead when we find ourselves in the midst of Saturday, the day of our confusion and fear. We are blind Bartimaeus, groping in the dark, unable to find the light of Your goodness. Help us to believe that resurrection is coming, that hope will be renewed, that all of Your promises will find their YES in Jesus. Intercede for us, dear Jesus, as you did for Peter: You prayed that his faith would not fail him. Strengthen in us the kind of faith that holds on between Friday and Sunday. By Your mercy, grant us faith and hope for our Saturdays.

Holy Week Prayers: The Friday that was good

jenmichel@me.com

Passage for Reflection: Luke 22:14-23:56 Father in heaven,

Today it is Good Friday, and it is good because Jesus suffered willingly in our place, absorbing into His body the wounds we each deserve. In every way, He teaches us to suffer well. First, He gathered His friends around a table, breaking bread and pouring wine, and for these symbols of His suffering, He gave You thanks. Teach us, like Jesus, to give thanks in all things and to learn the art of celebrating Your perfect purposes even when they are shrouded in mystery. Then Jesus went from the table to the garden, which was His regular place of prayer. There, He fell to His knees and looked to You for the strength to drink the cup of Your will. Teach us, like Jesus, that we can and should depend on You. Make us a people whose first impulse it is to pray and plead, and strengthen us to do that which You have commanded.

Your Son, Jesus, teaches us that suffering can be met without resistance. He laid down violence. He laid down self-defense. He laid down every weapon, and when the shepherd was struck, the sheep were scattered. When He chose not to resist, He was beaten. He was mocked. They blindfolded the God-Man, they stripped the Savior, and they crowned the King. In the face of unjust accusation, He remained silent.

Many were represented in the crowd that day: the disciples who fled, denying they ever knew Jesus; the women who followed the cross, making their loud lament; the soldiers who mocked, gambling for his clothes; the criminals who flanked his side, one mocking and one confessing faith; the centurion who heard Jesus draw His last breath, praising God; the crowd who turned from the bloody spectacle of a crucified man, returning home and beating their breasts. Some stayed close; many kept their distance.  And over every man and women gathered there, over every man and woman standing watch from eternity past and eternity future, Your Son, Jesus, pronounced these words of mercy: Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

None of us knows the measure of our sin, nor can we understand the severity of the judgment we deserve. Your wrath is not something we like to admit into our consciousness. How much easier it is to make our excuses and concessions, to justify the wrong we've done and the good we've left undone. None of us has the righteous scales by which our hearts would be rightfully weighed, but most of us have the suspicion that our actions and intentions would in every way be found wanting. We do not meet Your holy standard, and Good Friday teaches us that all sin, conscious or unintended, deserves death.

Good Friday is good because Jesus, the sinless God-Man, took a number and stood in line. He was numbered with the transgressors. When my number was called and it was my turn to stand before You, the Holy Judge, He went forward. He surrendered His body to the death that should have been mine. And He did it for love.

Today, let this story ring with new surprise. Forgive those of us who are indifferent, who mock, who do not admit that such a sacrifice was ever necessary. Forgive those of us who receive your gift of free grace with half-hearted thanks. Forgive our scaredy-cat faith and fair-weather devotion. Forgive us, for we do not know what we do.

Holy Week Prayers: Healing the Divide

jenmichel@me.com

Passage for Reflection: Matthew 26:36-56 Father in heaven,

In the beginning, You called into being a world filled with light and life. The skies, the oceans, the dry land: they were populated by the many creatures You made, but it was only into the Man that You breathed Your Holy breath. He came alive, formed by dust, formed by breath, formed into the pattern of His Creator. Man and Woman, they were shaped into the contours of the Imageo Dei. Man and Woman, they were imbued with conscience and compassion and commissioned with the care of the world.

But we have failed our task; we have abdicated our responsibilities.We do not love or worship or trust or serve as we were made to love and worship and trust and serve. The threads with which we have been made - blood and breath, muscle and bone - are fragile and easily unraveled. In our spirits, we script any number of good deeds, but our bodies are sluggish and sleepy. We cannot keep watch with you one hour.

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

We praise You, Father, that Jesus came to heal the divide that has severed our spirits from our bodies. Indeed, it was Your Son, Jesus, whose Spirit willingly gave His body to the suffering of the Cross. He gave a back to its blows, a head to its thorns, two hands to their nails, and a side to its sword. And the prayers of the Garden, in anticipation of the suffering that lay before Him, though they were sorrowful, do not mean that He was reluctant in His sacrifice, only pained that it had ever become necessary.

The healing of spirit and flesh, intention and action, is present in a meal: the body broken, the blood spilled. We eat and are satisfied. We drink and are cleansed. Our bodies, along with our spirits, are present at the table; both participate in the celebration of the redemption by which we are formed into a new people called into Your  possession and purposed for Your good works.

In the days that lie ahead, as we remember Your broken body laid in a tomb, then bursting forth with breath and radiant life, let the sin and sluggishness of our bodies be put to death. And once dead, let us be raised up into holy purpose and action; commission us once again with the care of all of Your creation, and let your people reflect the resurrected beauty of Your Christ.

He is our blessed hope.

 

Holy Week Prayers: The Surprise of Grace

jenmichel@me.com

Passages for Reflection: Matthew 23:1-36, 26:1-5, 30-35 Father in heaven,

You are a great God of mystery, and it is all too often that we fail to understand You and Your purposes. The gospel of grace is an endless surprise: by giving Your sinless Son for sinful humanity, you upend all of our expectations and overturn all of our religious conceptions. We can't help but notice how Jesus reserved His fiercest words for the religious and granted extraordinary grace to society's screw-ups. Your mission of redemption is unimaginable and unlike the one we ourselves would have planned.

We would have rewarded efforts, but you condemned all religious self-reliance. You have never been impressed with our eloquent prayers. You have perceived that it is not holiness but applause for which we've clamoured by all of our acts of giving and serving. Woe to each of us who gives and serves with the intention of being noticed. Woe to each of us who believes we have anything to offer worthy of your attention and approval. Woe to us who rely upon our rule-keeping for Your favor. Woe to us who read the Bible and extract only rules, straining gnats and swallowing camels.

We are surprised every time we learn that You demand more than these religious theatrics. We are crushed under the offense of the Cross, which announces forgiveness for all who would humble themselves and admit their pretence and rebellion. But we grow hopeful that this Cross, in its unexpected turn of mercy, will make way for our greatest freedom. In repentance and rest is our salvation.

The Cross is a rescue from our pretending, our indifference, and our corruption. The Cross is a way back for the betrayer, rest for the religiously exhausted. Your Son, Jesus, whose head hung by the weight of a crown of thorns, cries out to you, Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do, and You hear on behalf of the One who did not pretend and was never indifferent or corrupt. Because of His perfect righteousness, You send your mercy rolling down from the heavens and let sins be removed as far as the east is from the west. We are welcomed as sons and daughters and given the inheritance of Christ.

Your goodness is beyond measure; Your ways are not our ways. O magnify the name of the Lord with me!

 

Holy Week Prayers: Betrayals

jenmichel@me.com

judas Passage for Reflection: John 12:1-50

Father in heaven,

It has been your eternal purpose to rescue a world hell-bent on running far from you. In a Garden long ago, the man and the woman that You had made fell into the doubt that has been long been all of humanity's. Your Word was cast into suspicion by the Enemy of Your purpose. It was He who incriminated Your authority and goodness: Did God really say? It seems that so much of our confusion lies in answering that one simple question, in resolving our skepticism about Who You are and what You intend to do. What is it that You have said? We seem to be constantly forgetting. Or perhaps it is more true to sat that our forgetting is as convenient as it is chronic.

This is a week we remember how Your Son, Jesus, was betrayed. He was given over by Judas, a man loved by Jesus, whom He had chosen as His disciple. Had Judas been a disciple of promise? Is that why he was given the responsibility to keep the moneybag? Had it once been his zealous desire to see the poor provided for? Is he like so many of us who begin well, with zeal and with promise, only to discover how quickly good intentions dissolve into betrayal?

I am like Judas in more ways than I would like to admit. I make loud and long speeches to defend righteousness and purity, but in the cover of secrecy, I betray those speeches and do whatever it is that suits my mood and my own ambitions. I have not loved You enough to sustain loyalty to You, but I am good at my play-acting. How little others might suspect my criminal treason.

Can it be that Your Son, Jesus, died for every act of betrayal we have committed and might ever commit? How have You have loved us despite our greed? How have You chosen us despite our inglorious ambitions? With unimaginable grace, You have spilled Your blood for us, the treasonous. Father, glorify your name. In every way, You have taught us, in the life and death of Your Son, Jesus, that betrayals are not the end and forgiveness is your final purpose. You are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Let us become the kind of people who can, like Jesus, sustain a lifetime of forgiveness. Help us forgive those who have betrayed our reputation. Help us forgive those who have betrayed our friendship. Help us forgive those who have betrayed our confidences. Help us forgive those who have betrayed their promises made to us. Let us remember today that we are Judas, treasonous in thought and word and deed. Let the sober realization of our own sin lead us into a sympathetic understanding of our neighbor.

Let us become the kind of people who die, like Jesus, to all campaigns of the self. Form us in the image of Your Son, Jesus, who though He was troubled to think of the Cross, did not shirk it. "Father, save my from this hour," is the prayer Jesus refused in his hour of trial. We confess it is the very prayer we take up in ours. How afraid we are to suffer, and how indignant we are when we suffer unjustly. Forgive us, and give us the courage and sustaining faith of Jesus, who knew the purposes for which His life was intended and who treasured the glory that came from You rather than the glory that came from the world.

Make your church a radiant light of forgiveness and a holy beacon of surrender.

 

 

Holy Week Prayers: To See and to Love

jenmichel@me.com

Passage for Reflection: Matthew 21:12-22:46 Father in heaven,

When you sent your Son, Jesus, the living Word made flesh, you made possible what had always been impossible: you allowed us to see You. Even Moses, the great Prophet, was warned that man should not see You and live. How was it that You deigned to visit our humble planet and wear the frail threads of humanity? How was it that You decided to tear the curtain of Divine obscurity and give us a glimpse of the Holy? It must be that Your love is more steadfast that we could imagine, Your grace more persistent that we could conceive.

And yet, because of our unbelieving eyes, we do not always see. Often, we are indignant by the God-Man revealed, as were the religious leaders of Jesus' day. Their questions - and ours - are many.

Do you hear the Hosanna chorus of the children?

By what authority are you doing these things?

Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

In the resurrection, of the seven, whose wife will she be?

Which is the greatest commandment of the Law?

So often, we cannot be moved beyond our own religious misconceptions to embrace the Jesus who heals, and the Jesus who permits the prostitute's touch; Jesus the guest of the tax collector and Jesus the Sabbath-breaker; the Jesus of the feast and the Jesus of the Cross. Our questions are often thinly-veiled accusations: we wonder how the Jesus sent could stand so far outside the bounds of the Jesus we expected. Our questions reveal the ways we feel threatened. We do not like to cede power. And ultimately, we do not want to praise. We fail to believe the simple terms by which You've described kingdom living: Love God? Love our neighbor? Surely our fastidious rule-keeping is a better way.

Good Friday will show us that the kingdom is simple, yes, but never easy. There is a high price to love and sacrifice is required in its every genuine expression. Good Friday will reveal how ultimately incapable we are of the kind of love You require. Good Friday will secure a forgiveness we have not deserved, a transformation we could not have manufactured.

Make us, this week, a people who see. And having received our sight, make us a people who love.

 

 

 

 

Holy Week Prayers: Hosanna

jenmichel@me.com

Passages for reflection: The Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-40

Father in heaven,

The week ahead of us begs our attention and makes invitation to consider the most important of questions: Who is Jesus? The crowds knew Your Son as a healer: they sought Him in the brokenness of their bodies, in the despairing and dark valleys of disease and death. It was Jesus who fed them bread and fish along with every word that proceeds from Your mouth. It was Jesus, moved by the compassion that has eternally been yours, who touched them and made them whole. How tender and patient you were with their slowness of heart and the deliberate choosing of their ignorance, they who had not eyes to see, nor ears to hear, nor hearts inclined to turn and be healed. You loved the crowd whose hosanna shouts, would, in time, turn murderous.

We are like them in every way, awed whenever it is Your will to visit upon us miracles, marvelling at every spectacle of your power, seized by the emotional frenzy of hosanna when it appears that the happy endings will finally be ours. More often than we would like to admit, our cries of jubilant praise rise from the ugly depths of our self-interest: we demand a saviour of our own design.

In less than a week's time, their chorus - and ours - dissolves into a chant: Crucify him, crucify him. How fickle our affections and disloyal out hearts. We have wanted a King to crown, rejecting a King to whom we must bend. Is that why, upon entering Jerusalem, You shed Your tears and wished we had known the things that make for peace?

We have not always recognized you, high and humble King and Savior of the simple. The disappointments and failed expectations that have been ours (oh, how we have wanted you to rout the enemy and make all wrongs right!) have obscured your light. When You have not given us what we've wanted, it is to darkness that we have made our return.

Even today, a day I mean to say, "Hosanna!" and mean to claim my true allegiance to the risen King Jesus, is a day, like any other, where I will fail my resolve of praise. I am corrupted by false expectations and limited in my inability to apprehend the breadth and beauty of Your shimmering glory. But Savior King, riding on the donkey, it is your great joy to set your face towards Jerusalem and endure the shame of the cross on my behalf as a willing substitute for me, and yes, for every one of your half-hearted fans.

Thanks be to God for the indescribable gift of grace.