Alum Devotional: David Bebb Jones (M.Div. 1962)
In 2002, the theme of McCormick Days was "for such a time as this" and alums were invited to submit poetry and prose on the theme. The Rev. David Bebb Jones, now H.R., has continued the tradition each year since then.
Palm Sunday in churches around the world
Hosannas rang out, children and Palm branches twirled.
Christians remembered and celebrated Jesus in glory.
The Jerusalem entrance seemed triumphant – a wonderful story.
Three years of ministry had quickly gone by with his living.
A new vision of God’s Kingdom was conveyed – a gift he was giving.
Jesus of Nazareth was baptized, anointed, to represent a new voice.
God’s Son had a mission of love to change the world – to offer a choice.
Faithfully and obediently Jesus touched human lives with his love.
In preaching, teaching and healing God’s gift and sign was a dove.
The good news was known and the people’s hopes were high.
Beyond the love they desperately wanted a political act Jesus could try.
The Romans occupied and subjected the Jews with a mighty hand.
Occupations are always despised; the populace restless throughout the land.
Jesus was their hope for a Messiah who would challenge even Rome.
Eagerly, expectantly, hopefully Jesus brought them out from their home.
“Hosanna – Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Cheering for Jesus in triumph they wanted their King with a Sword.
The sword was their symbol, their sign of strong earthly power.
Jesus was their man, their hero, their perceived warrior of the hour.
Now I sit in the silent chapel surrounded by candles and cross.
How could the Hosannas have so quickly faded – their triumph a loss?
What happened to the cheering, the clamoring crowd for their king?
Why did ’Hosanna’ become ‘Crucify’ – a cruel crucifixion to bring?
Through the years we have wondered about the transformation to hate.
But in 2010 in America we have witnessed anger explode – a sad fate.
We see crowds gather, raised to fever pitch, exploited for political gain.
Violent images, degradation of others, untruths repeated, it seems insane.
Sadly it is not insane, but clearly cleverly calculated efforts to gain control
Our time honored democratic process has given way to extreme vitriol.
Targets, bulls eyes/cross hairs, images of war fill air waves/internet each day
In our present culture any accommodation or compromise has gone away.
Many are frightened by the rapid changes that are degrading our nation.
The art of ‘reasoning together’ in Isaiah is lost in this political, polarized station.
This year we more easily understand how the Hosanna to Crucify took place.
Dashed hopes – loss of ‘our ideas’ – mistrust of others trumps this race.
Can orderly government be reinstated in such a climate of fear?
Is it possible to realign the ship of our nation and move to a positive gear?
Does this momentum of anger ever give way to resolutions with grace?
Or are we hopelessly doomed to this frightening, irrational, fear filled face?
In Jerusalem the crowd got out of hand quickly and anger won out.
“Crucify – Crucify/ our King is a puppet, not a warrior they shout.
Disappointed, disillusioned, the people he came to help let him go.
If Jesus would not fight for them in battle with the Romans he was ‘no show’.
The crowd turned against Jesus and the political powers won the day.
Economic leaders triumphed as usual and they put Jesus away.
Crucifixion was easy, a public humiliation to demonstrate who’s in charge.
The cross on a hill between two thieves, the message loomed large.
Jesus was crucified, an upstart whose popularity had quickly faded.
The new image of a Kingdom of Love and Compassion was suddenly jaded.
But it was not only the image of Jesus that they tried to extinguish.
It was God’s design for a new humanity that the people could not distinguish.
That design had to be conveyed again. Prophets of Israel had tried.
Commandments, Covenants, all were clear, but consistently denied.
God finally came in a human form, Jesus, to live out the vision.
God came to forgive, to reconcile, to break down the walls of division.
It is so difficult to break through the human yearnings to win.
Through the ages humanity turns inward to selfishness. It is called sin!
Sin causes us to cease caring about the people and causes outside.
We become so self-centered, conceited, driven for power on the inside.
But God through Jesus keeps coming into the world with persistence.
The new Kingdom of Love is still God’s desire for us. This is God’s insistence.
We can try and succeed in putting off the reality that only love wins,
But Easter is God’s answer that love finally and ultimately will conquer all sins.
Easter morning - new life for Jesus and for the Kingdom vision to prevail.
Easter morning – from death to resurrection – against the tide to sail.
Let the wind catch the sail of humanity’s ship on life’s sea.
Let us all find new Hosannas that will last and change us for eternity.