The Hosanna Community

See: John 12:12-19

We live in a world where all institutions including the Church is seeking new ways of being relevant. In the post digital-space age where artificial intelligence and robotics define and influence the collective subconscious thinking, it is important that the Church keep reminding itself of its role and significance to each generation. The shout Hosanna is one lens through which we could look at the kaleidoscopic possibilities of the church in the changing new age.

Community Shouting Hosanna

The word Hosanna originally comes from the Hebrew phrase- Hoshiya Na and it literally means “Save Now”.

On Palm Sunday we celebrate the Triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem riding on a donkey. The rising of Lazarus which only the gospel of John narrates made several people believe what was heard around that Jesus could possibility be the Messiah they were waiting for. So, as they see him coming riding on a donkey, they start putting their clothes on the way and waving palm leaves shouting “Hosanna!! Blessed be the one who comes in the name of the Lord. The King of Israel.”

John makes it clear that we have now the hindsight to look at the entire episode after it has happened and that after Jesus was glorified the disciples remembered these events in a different perspective all together. God had a very specific plan for the life of Jesus and this entry was the journey to the cross and Jesus knew about the same. However, the people thought that he would be the one who would liberate them from the colonial regime of the Romans and establish the kingdom again. Therefore, they cried out- He is the Messiah- the one who comes in the name of the Lord and that he would be the King of Israel. However, Jesus knew that his kingdom was not this-worldly. He was not looking forward to being the triumphant king that the people expected but a suffering servant.

Neo-Colonialism and Modern-Day Slavery has taken very different and new forms and there are millions of people wanting liberation and several others reconciled to their plight thinking a liberation would never be possible. Though there is strong desire to create a brave new world, they lack the faith and resilience to smell it and see it with their heart. It is herein the role of the church becomes important. When shouts for salvation become feeble around us, we need to keep the slogan going- Hosanna, Save the people.

The responsibility of the church is to cry with the people and cry on behalf of the people- Hosanna Save Us Now. This challenges us to review our ministry of prayer and intercession. We need to be a church that prays together much more than we do now.

Community Responding to the Cries- Hosanna

The Shout “Hosanna” is thus with the hope and expectation that Jesus would be the liberator and redeemer they were waiting for. In the Old Testament we read of this term in Psalm 118:25. It is a deep cry of anguish- Save us we beseech you O Lord. Hosanna is a cry for divine help and intervention. They see God at work and shout out “This is the Day that the Lord has made” and then assured of the presence of the Divine amidst them, shouts out- Pray, Save Us. It is an avowed expression of praise with the experience of God amid them. It is a cry that an alternate regime will be possible. Another world is now possible, and we can already see and feel it.

As we celebrate Palm Sunday and Passion Week again, we must acknowledge that there are several people crying out aloud around Us- Please Save Us. We must be able to listen to the Hosanna cries around us.
From the war victims of Ukraine and victims of violence the world over we hear the cry- Hosanna
From the refugees and migrants world over we hear the cry- Hosanna
From the boat people who have left their shores seeking safer spaces but are not allowed to reach any safe shore we hear the cry- hosanna
From the people who have lost their livelihood due to the Pandemic we hear the cry- Hosanna
From the people who cannot pay even for their medical expenses due to poverty we hear the cry- Hosanna
From the people who live in hunger we hear the cry- Hosanna
From nature that is being exploited without measure- we hear the cry- Hosanna
From generations of the future who might not have a safe space to live- we hear the cry Hosanna.
From those excluded and marginalised and reeling in loneliness we hear the cry- Hosanna, Save Us
From the differently abled, those struggling with gender identities and minority identities we hear the cry- Save Us
From those struggling under dictators and under bad governance we hear the cry- Save

Even as we travel from the Hosanna experience through the journey of pain around the cross and Celebrate the Resurrection event at Easter let us not lose hope of the crying out that is happening around us- Hosanna- Save Us.

The challenge of the church is to take a close look at our ministry of diakonia. Many a times we become so introvert in our existence that we fail to comprehend the very purpose of our existence- to be a community responding to the cries of our neighbours.

Community Proclaiming Hosanna

Across time the word Hosanna transformed to mean- The Lord has saved. In its original usage in Psalm 118:25 the Psalmist cries out Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! But immediately in the next  verse we read, Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord. Perhaps the crowds who sang were quoting the scriptures. The procession brought to their mind the scriptural imagery therein. The Lord is God, and he has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. This exactly was being replicated and the Psalmist summarises the message thus in verse 29 – O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever.

Hosanna therefore could literally mean- Salvation. (The Lord has saved) When they saw Jesus riding on the donkey they were literally rejoicing and proclaiming forth- Salvation has come. This is the salvation that we were waiting for. Jesus is our salvation.

The mission of the church has been understood by the Anglican Communion primarily to tell of this salvation, to teach people of the essence of this salvation, to tend people in the community that salvation makes possible, to transform structures that stand on the way of the full experience of salvation and to treasure the salvation of entire creation.

This challenges us to take a look at our ministry of proclamation. To Proclaim that Salvation is here in our midst pointing at Jesus, that Repentance and believing in Him is the way to eternal life and this manifestation of the entry into Jerusalem was the precursor to the cross and resurrection which completes the essence of salvation.

We as the church needs to be clear of the content of our kerygma and that in one sentence is Jesus is the Salvation. The door of grace is still open and that Jesus would return as the King and Judge.

Let us aspire to be a church more relevant to our times and to our people

Vinod Victor

April 1, 2023

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