Friday, October 23, 2009

Save us (on our terms!)...

"Save us, we beseech you, O LORD!  O LORD, we beseech you, give us success!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD."
(Psalm 118:25-26)

"Save us!" is the cry.  By and large, I think this world wants to be saved.  It's hard to argue against that.  But one's definition of "being saved" probably varies greatly.  The Hebrew word for "save us" is HOSHIANNA.  It's where we get "Hosanna!"  In fact, the very next verse in Psalm 118 goes hand-in-hand with "Hosanna!"  Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the LORD.  It's what the crowds cried out to Jesus on what we in the Christian church refer to as Palm Sunday.

Jesus was entering Jerusalem (for what would be his last week of life on earth), riding on a donkey (a sign of humility)... and the people were shouting, "Hosanna!  Hosanna!" I guess I'd always thought it was like saying, "Praise God!" or "Oh Yah!" or "You're the Man!"  But no.  It means "Save us!"

Now here's where it gets complicated.  My idea of what "being saved" means... and God's idea of what it means for me to be saved may very well be two completely different things.  Look at Psalm 118:25b... "O LORD, we beseech you, give us success."  Ah, there it is!  Success.  Of course!  We want success!!!  The crowds in Jerusalem on that Palm Sunday were ready for the occupying Roman government to be overthrown and the Hebrew people given autonomy once again.  "Save us... on our terms!"  But Jesus had another idea of what it meant to be saved... and it involved sacrifice, humility, submission to God's will (not ours)... it modeled servanthood, love & inclusivity.  The crowds who'd shouted, "Hosanna!  Save us!" on Sunday, changed their tune to "Crucify Him!" on Friday.

We are a fickle people, we humans.  We want to be saved... we really do... but on our own terms & conditions.  God doesn't work that way.  So if "Save us!" is truly our heart's cry... then it should be followed by the word of Jesus, when he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before he was killed: "Not my will, but Yours be done, O Lord." Wow.

Hosanna!  Save us!  Please.  Please...

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