Virginia Taylor: Palm Sunday Memories . . .

Matthew 21:1-11

“The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting,

                        ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!

                                    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

                        Hosanna in the highest heaven!’”

 

I was admitted to the hospital in the wee hours of Palm Sunday in 1987.  It was determined that I was miscarrying what was my first pregnancy, and I would need a D&C before I could go home. This was no ordinary pregnancy.  It came after many tests and procedures, and two surgeries. 

My response to the loss surprised me. It was similar to Job’s response to his many losses: “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”  My thoughts weren’t as poetic, but even in my hospital bed I remember thinking that this experience would help me empathize with other women who experience the loss of a child. 

I still cried, and I wanted my mom, and as I lay in that hospital bed during the worship hour that Sunday morning, I wanted a palm branch.  Of course, our pastor wasn’t able to come to the hospital because he was leading worship that morning.  I understood, but I still wanted to be a part of the story.  I wanted to wave my branch and say with the crowd, “Hosanna to the Son of David!  Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!  Hosanna in the highest heaven!”  It makes a lot more sense when you realize that “Hosanna” in Hebrew is an invocation addressed to God, meaning, “O save!”  O save me God!  Save me from my heartache, save me from my barrenness, save me from my self-pity! 

We think of Palm Sunday as a triumphant day, but Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jerusalem “was in turmoil,” much like my hormones that Sunday morning.  So, in that way, I was a part of the story after all.  My pastor called that afternoon, after we got home from the hospital, and asked if he could bring us anything.  He brought us some food–and a leftover palm. 

A Palm Sunday doesn’t go by that I don’t remember that day and its turmoil.  And as we approach Good Friday, I have a small glimmer of insight into Mary’s loss as she watched her son die on the cross.  What was true then is true now. Jesus comes boldly into the midst of our turmoil and we cry out, “Save us, Jesus!  Blessed are you!  Save us, God!  Amen.”

 

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Virginia Ross Taylor was the first woman pastor of Lystra Baptist Church in Chapel Hill, NC and currently serves as a freelance minister.  She has a Master of Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA.  She and her husband, Ralph are the parents of one grown daughter, Grace, who is in graduate school.

 

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