This blog is a Lenten reflection by LSSNCA guest blogger and partner, Rev. Louis R. Tillman, IV of St. Philip’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Baltimore, Maryland.
This Palm Sunday we embark upon another year of life in the Season of COVID-19. Many states are lifting their restrictions and trying to go back to the days of normality, but the positive cases deaths of COVID-19 are increasing every second of the day. And yet, we still do not feel the sense that Easter is upon us. But rather we are still carrying the Lenten emotions of anxiety, depression, chaos and fear – as we still are fighting for our existence within this Season of COVID-19.
In the particular pericope of Mark 11:9-10, there you see the word Hosanna. A word that church folks commonly use but consistently interpret it an incorrect manner. It is quoted and used as if it meant Praise; but it’s Hebraic translation means to Save now! This occurs in exactly the same form in the scriptures according to both 2 Samuel 14:4 and 2 Kings 6:26, where it is used by people seeking for help and protection at the hands of the king. When the people shouted Hosanna, it was not a cry of praise to Jesus, which it often sounds like when we say it. It was a cry to God to break in and save his people now that the Messiah had come.
The historic St. Philip’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in East Baltimore has been shouting Hosanna ever since March 15, 2020; a date when our congregation made a decision to start virtual services moving forward. We shouted Hosanna when we wanted to reduce our carbon footprint by endorsing the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. We shouted Hosanna when we wanted to created equal access to health care by helping to distribute 50,000 COVID-19 vaccines within East Baltimore. We shouted Hosanna when we wanted our community to protect themselves with high quality PPE supplies, so we distributed over 500,000 COVID-19 care kits all over the city of Baltimore, MD. We shouted Hosanna when we realized that there was a challenge for voter’s registration in the 2020 Presidential Election, so we organized strategized and mobilized to get over 30,000 young adults in the DMV (DC, Maryland, & Virginia) area to register to vote for the first time. St. Philip’s, the oldest African American Lutheran congregation in North America, will shout Hosanna every moment that we are blessed to have breath – because we need Jesus to save us now!
One of the most dangerous things a person can do is to go to people and tell them that all of their ideology, methodology and theology is wrong. Any person who tries to tear up by the roots a people’s nationalistic dreams is in for trouble. But this is what Jesus deliberately is doing in Mark 11:1-11. In this text, we see Jesus making the last appeal of love and making it with a courage that is heroic. This ultimately reminds us, as people of God, that we are placed on this Earth to be servants of all – because Jesus is the ultimate savior of all! Hosanna in the highest!
LSSNCA celebrates our Lutheran origins and partners. This Palm Sunday we pray for peace, kindness, and love. Love your neighbors and look after them. There is so much heartbreak in our world but also so much to be thankful for. Rejoice in the love of your God, family, and neighbors!
Be bold in your love and help us make an impact in the lives of your neighbors. Support us through a donation, volunteer as a mentor for a refugee youth, open your heart and home to foster care, be a Good Neighbor, or become an advocate for refugee resettlement!