Sunday, April 17, 2011
Welcome! (not really)
Indeed it was Spring – Spring Break according to the calendar although no one had told the weather that as yesterday it was snowing but, nevertheless it was spring and we were returning to our “summer” church a hundred miles from home.
The announcements had begun as we slipped down the side aisle to the only available space in the second row but no soon were we seated than we were shooed out of those seats as they were being reserved for the youth currently gathered in the vestibule with their palm fronds. So as we exited the sanctuary the same man joked “You don’t have to leave really, you can stay!” Little did he know how ready I was to do just that as this incident was just one more in a series of unwelcoming experiences.
But we reentered the sanctuary,up the opposite side aisle, again to the front and seated just in time to stand as the kids came in waving the palms.
For it was Palm Sunday – the day of welcome. So as the palms waved and my children kept “accidentally” hitting each other with their branches, and allergies kicked into high gear; I thought, “How welcome did Jesus feel that day?”
Sure, the people were shouting affirmation but He knew what they’d be shouting in a few days; now they cried “Hosanna” but soon it would be “Crucify”.
It wasn’t just his foreknowledge that made their welcome hollow, it was their history. He’d stood looking down on the city just previous to this applauded entrance and said “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!”Matthew 23:37
For generations God had been extending the invitation to His people to know and worship only Him and while the people politely listened on the Sabbath and felt themselves to be quite holy; then they’d go out to the altars of the false gods in their yards and home to their foreign spouses.
They were saying “welcome” but living “not really”.
Do we do the same? Do we sincerely sing songs praising His lordship and then live like it’s all up to us?
Do we read words of promise as “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress” (Psalms 71:3) and then let ourselves get beaten down by the circumstances?
Do we say in essence “Great seeing you today in church God; let’s be sure to get together sometime” but then when He comes knocking at our hearts door we’re too busy to invite Him in?
So on this day of welcome, and during this holy week may we say "Welcome" with our whole hearts and then live it out with our lives.
When God knocks at the door may we invite Him in; when He says "Come" may we gladly follow, and may our spoken Hosannas be lived out in lives that bring Him honor and praise.