Thoughts and Songs for Palm Sunday 2020

This is not much of a Palm Sunday reflection. I got distracted by news items this morning. But stick with it… we get to Palm Sunday and some songs in the end. – SB 🙂

To my fellow Christians, some of whom are publicly bristling at current restrictions on public gathering which means we can’t gather for church: I beg you to not invite further ridicule and scorn on the Church of Christ by entertaining a circulating notion that this may be some sort of global, anti-Christian conspiracy that is to be “faithfully” resisted. This is nonsense and it is patently dangerous. Now would be an appropriate time to raise the biblical injunction to obey the authorities (Romans 12:1-2).

Although I am a keen champion of common worship… gathering (under current conditions) is hardly essential to our communion or our witness.

Consider our scriptures. They teach that “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” They remind us that just before his ascension, Jesus promised his friends he’d be with them “until the very end of the age.” The writer of Hebrews encourages us with an “assurance of what we do not see” which includes our being “surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses.” Paul the Apostle clearly taught that “in Christ” is a very real place neither related to geographical location nor restricted by ethnicity, nationality, status or gender. And following Paul, the ancients taught that in Christ we are closer to God and each other than we are to our own breath.

Staying apart for the sake of others is what Christian love looks like right now. We don’t need to gather to manifest our communion. We have already been gathered by a love unassailable by viruses or conspiracies or principalities or powers. Through the eyes of faith, and in prayer, we can meet and greet each other with a holy kiss, and together we can worship the One in whom we live and move and have our being.

Will we will be physically together again? Of course! In the meantime, for the love of Christ and all that Christ loves, let’s stay home, content ourselves with prayer, and locate ourselves in spirit and in truth among the joyful company of singing saints and trumpeting angels calling out to one another, “Holy! Holy! Holy! The whole earth is full of God’s glory!” (Isaiah 6:3)

—which happens to be a good song for Palm Sunday:

HOLY LORD (Isaiah 6:3 / Psalm 118:26 / Matthew 21:9)
music and lyrics by Steve Bell

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord
God of power and might
Heaven and earth of your glory are full
Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the highest

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord

This next song reflects on the story of Jesus’ ride from Bethany to Jerusalem on a donkey amid waving palm fronds and shouts of Hosanna! The story is memorialized by the church every year on Palm Sunday.

This “triumphal entry” began from the small town of Bethany (the home of Lazarus) which was a short distance from Jerusalem but notable in that it had the reputation of being home for many of society’s outcasts and diseased. Simon the Leper lived there. The name “Bethany” literally means House of Misery.

The name of its most famous citizen—Lazarus, Jesus’ friend whom he raised from the dead—means God helps. And if you put the meaning of Lazarus and Bethany together, you get God helps the house of misery.

If you consider to what our scriptures attest, that Jesus’ parade into Jerusalem on a lowly donkey signalled the beginning of a cosmic regime change with the slogan, God Helps the House of Misery, and a staggering picture emerges:

The unique glory of this sovereign is not in the display of splendour and power common to Pharaohs, Emperors and their contemporary equivalents, but rather in the unlikely display of radical humility, solidarity and compassion with the marginalized and miserable.

Hossana indeed!

lyrics by Steve Bell and Diana Pops
music by Steve Bell

Praise the Lord, blessed be
Who has come to help the house called Bethany
Who defends those broken friends
Who’ve been crying
Comes the light, breaks the dawn
A ray of hope for those who’s hope is gone
Lift your head, dry your eyes
Time for rising

Praise the Lord, blessed be
Who has come to help the very least of these
In whose hands the journey ends
Joy surprises
From the east with every morn
Can you hear the voice that summons up horizon’s song
Lift your head, dry your eyes
Time for rising

Praise the Lord, blessed be
Who has come to help the very least of these
Who defends the humble hands
That bode his dying
Who braves the night, retrieves the dawn
A ray of hope for those whose hope is gone
Lift your head, dry you eyes
Time for rising

11 thoughts on “Thoughts and Songs for Palm Sunday 2020

  1. Thank you for this! Your song “Ride On, King Jesus” is also inspiring and suitable for today.

  2. Thank you for these words and the music – brought joy to my heart this morning.

  3. Hello Faye,
    I am hoping you can forward this to Steve.
    With all of my fellow passengers of this amazing place we call Earth, I am navigating my place in nature’s way and trying to embrace the blessings woven into each day filled with warnings and heartbreaking news. It is so important to remain grounded and lift your eyes beyond the grips of fear. To see the sky above us reminding us that there is something so much bigger than us and in a way wrapping it’s arms around us with all of nature’s family, including the trees, the birds, the water and the wind. I was given a gift to be with Steve across the street in Edgemont Calgary many months ago where he sang for my family and friends. Here By The Water was the first song he shared and he offered it to us knowing that we had a strong connection to the song and the message his voice and amazing guitar gave to it. Thank you for the song Steve as it is a gift that inspires me to lift my eyes and feel the embrace. It draws me close to what is so much bigger than us. I hope that Faye can share this with you and that you might have a moment to “connect” with me here.
    Wishing Faye, you, Nance and your kids and their kids and your mom grounding and peaceful embraces that enfold us and somehow hold us together.

    Your Friend,
    Rob Dougherty

  4. Thank you Steve for doing this. Your online music provides an oasis of peace and focus on God in the midst of a sea of anxiety and unsettledness.

  5. Thank you. This is just what I needed to help me prepare for the week ahead.

  6. May the Lord bless you, Steve. Your writing lays the perfect table for us all, one at which the Last Supper will be commemorated and the Easter feast thankfully and joyfully celebrated.

    Thanks for giving Beth and I this; it’s spiritual comfort food.

  7. Truly inspirational. Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, is likely the first song I recall hearing Steve sing.
    The comments about Bethany were particularly poignant and instructive and the song was powerfully evocative of the hope we cling to in these days. In one of the worship services we listened to during the day, we heard “Ride on, King Jesus”.
    Thanks Steve for interspersing our Palm Sunday with your Spirit- endowed gifts of poetry and song.

  8. April 7. Appreciating , online sincere (discerning) message,..Steve (including scripture verse as well).
    A couple things ,come to mind : A faith-filled friend, lost (most) of his sight in his later years, — used verse 8 of Psalm 32 ; personally, correlates with song :
    “Be Thou my Vision”.
    And, “Ride on King JESUS” ,, leads to (prayer) = Give us your peace

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