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From Hosanna to Hallelujah

My ten year old grandson had a major meltdown a couple of nights ago. Fortunately he wasn’t staying with me at the time. It is no surprise he is seriously missing his friends, his school, his teacher, and even whatever kid-friendly food is served in the cafeteria. Ben’s family managed this meltdown by arranging an evening with his dad, who has been nearly unavailable working from home in a very high stress level job. They ate potato chips and ice cream sandwiches for dinner and watched a movie together.

It hasn’t been so simple for me. My meltdowns come in little spurts, now and then. Watching my pastor’s online presence, glimpses of last year’s Palm Sunday with smiling faces and waving palm branches, unexpected tears are leaking down my chin. We’ve developed a “family unit” with my daughter, her husband and son; they live just down the hill from me, six or seven minutes away. Yet when they show up here, or on rare occasions when I see them at their house, the hugs I’ve been missing are almost too much for my sturdy yet challenged constitution to absorb.

Just now, sitting at the computer, glancing out the window, several groups of neighbors have passed by, distancing, wearing masks even in the spaciousness of our tidy complex. I’ve been out there too, earlier today, walking with a friend, not wearing a mask, staying separate, but cheerfully smiling at everyone I saw. AND, I have been readily saying, to anyone who would listen, a reminder we heard in today’s virtual gathering of our beloved church family: “Hallelujah” means “Praise the Lord”; “Hosanna” means “Lord, save us.” Right now, today, “Hosanna” is the word for us.

There is so much from which we could be saved. There are no Roman conquerors with huge armies invading our quiet towns and cities. Yet there is fear, confusion, anxiety, loneliness, boredom, lethargy, anger, irritation, a flimsy but growing awareness of the unknown, the unexpected, the “impossible”. There is a tiny germ, a virus, vicious in its proliferation, invisible, undetectable for weeks, threatening us. The news, and directions that come multiplying, give us a sense of ongoing devastation and despair. What are we to do? “Hosanna!” Lord save us!

By the time you read this there will be more versions of what we are to say and do and believe, regarding the virus. No one really knows what is coming next, and the changes in information lead us to doubt nearly everything we hear. Yet the apostle Paul has some well-crafted words of instruction that sound like a response to our “Hosanna”. These come from The Message, 1 Timothy 2:1-3: “”The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.”

Here is one more brief quote from The Message, slightly adapted: (Romans 5:2) “We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that God has already thrown open the door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.”

This is when “Hallelujah” really comes into its own.

Prayer: Lord, save us. This is our daily and weekly prayer. Watch over our nurses and doctors. Give encouragement and patience to our parents. Give rest to the weary and comfort to the lonely. Lord, save us. Ant then, and then one day soon, we will be able to shout “Hallelujah.”

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Rev. Barbara Graham is a retired chaplain. She is a member at First Baptist Church of Colorado Springs. Last summer, at the age of 79, she served as a Middle School group leader at Front Range Camp and went rappelling with the Middle School campers.

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