The children, palm branches in hand, paraded in the aisles at Northland yesterday, upholding a Palm Sunday tradition. And Joel preached. I’ve been hearing Palm Sunday sermons for close to 5 decades now and there are some aspects of the story that are so familiar I hardy hear them.
I’m pretty sure that Joel’s main point yesterday was not about the difference between Hosanna and Hallelujah, but that is where God shook me awake and told me to take notes.
Hallelujah = PRAISE GOD!
Hosanna = HELP! SAVE NOW, I PRAY!
We’ve so often heard the “hosannas” shouted with the other phrase from the Palm Sunday text “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” that it has become a declaration of praise in our usage, but it’s Old Testament meaning (and likely that influenced those lining the streets to Jerusalem as Jesus rode in on the colt) is a cry for salvation.
My worship leans strongly toward hallelujah when, in reality, I need a whole lot more hosanna. I am–to quote a former teacher of mine–a wicked and depraved woman living in a dying and decaying body, and I need to be saved! Now. Every day.
Saved from my own sin. Saved from the residue and run-off of the sin around me. Saved from the voices of sin that grow louder as my hosannas dim.
So, this week I am using palm branches (there are a lot of those in Florida) to serve as a reminder to put words to my desperate need for salvation. I am being intentional about adding hosanna to my hallelujah.
The image above is by a personal favorite artist, He Qi.
Dr. He Qi was a professor at the Nanjing Union Theological Seminary and a tutor for master candidate students in the Philosophy Department of Nanjing University. He is also a member of the China Art Association and a council member of the Asian Christian Art Association.
He has been committed to the artistic creation of modern Chinese Christian Art since 1983. He hopes to help change the “foreign image” of Christianity in China by using artistic language, and at the same time, to supplement Chinese Art the way Buddhist art did in ancient times. In his works, He Qi has blended together Chinese folk customs and traditional Chinese painting techniques with the western art of the Middle and Modern Ages, and has created an artistic style of color-on-paper painting.
Dr. He Qi was the first among Mainland Chinese to earn Ph.D. in the Religious art after Cultural Revolution. He wrote his dissertation while studying at Hamburg Art Institute in Germany, where he was also able to pursue research in medieval art.