On Sunday people waved palm branches. High up in the air, swaying back and forth.
Crowded streets on a Sunday, a crowded life on All The Days, and some days I wave the branches and cry “Hosannah!” … and others I’m too busy, too worn down and worn out to even lift my head.
The babe came and the man walked the streets and rode the donkey and I, I can’t pause to praise thanks? I can’t stop long enough to whisper hosannah to the unmoving, unchanging, unfailing Word made flesh?
I can’t lift my eyes from the busy to cry praise to the Word, made into flesh, come to redeem?
You can let the Word dwell among you without ever letting it dwell in you.
Tomorrow will be Friday. And yes, because Sunday is coming, tomorrow is good.
But two weeks ago I found myself leaving a country that’s stolen a huge piece of my heart. We rode down bumpy roads and dusty streets. Past houses made of dirt, houses of concrete, houses that we wouldn’t call houses in America.
Go back one more day, back to Wednesday, and I was walking the dusty streets in a place called Boukeron, Haiti.
We didn’t wave palm branches but swaying high up in the sky were colored flags.
I remember the first time I saw them during my first time in Haiti. I remember thinking something along the lines of, “Oh what beautiful colors! There’s so little green here, so much brown, and right there against the open sky there’s a little bit of happiness!”
Man, was I wrong.
I knew better this year and instead of a smile, the flags pushed me to pray and brought me low.
The colorful flags in the sky stand out amongst the wide open blue. Follow the pole down from the flag and you’ll find a house. Inside the house is one who is feared amongst the community.
Our translators explained to us that the flags belong to a witch doctor and each one represents a different evil spirit that the witch doctor works for.
My stomach was immediately full of knots, my mind wrapping slowly around something that I could barely understand.
Two weeks ago we walked the well-worn paths and collected a census from the people. We asked their name, if they have a job, whether they have children who are in school, etc. All of this information will greatly help us better serve the community of Boukeron as we partner with them. While members of our team would ask the questions and write down the answers, the rest of us would be praying silently over the family. Sometimes we were able to pray out loud over them and their household.
Every once in a while we would make a turn and look for the next house behind the cacti fences, only to see the flags before we saw the house.
It always slipped in my head “are you going to go?” and always right back came “how could we not?”
He is greater. More powerful and completely over every waving palm branch and colorful piece of fabric in the sky.
He is greater.
We went. Every time. I prayed under my breath nonstop. Held children in my arms and held hands with those old enough to skip around the yard. Smiled at the shy ones hiding behind the doors. And prayed. I said His name over and over until it was an anthem.
Jesus. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.
One of my friends wrote about it – how they were given the opportunity to pray with and over a witch doctor.
I write all of this to say really just one thing (617 words later), something that same friend wondered out loud last year as we passed yet another house with colors flying high.
If we were in America and if there were a flag raised above our houses for every idol we worshipped, how many flags would we each have?
Because it’s a whole lot easier to look at and wonder about and maybe even judge – until you turn it back on yourself.
I’m ashamed at the number of colors you would see above my dorm room. As we enter into Good Friday tomorrow, I pray that my friend’s question will play on repeat in your head. I pray that it will flat mess you up like it did for me.
And as we approach the pain of Friday, the confusion and silence of Saturday, and finally the joy of promises kept on Sunday, may we all lower the flags and lift palm branches high in worship.
Hosanna is really hoshi’ ah-na. It means Save! Help!
Lower the flags. Lift the palm branches.
During our time in Haiti two weeks ago, we were able to see and learn so much. The stories will continue to come but today I simply ask you to pray that Light will pour so heavy and strong into the village of Boukeron. We were told that there are at least 23 witch doctors in the village. And I know you don’t know their names but He does. If you’ve read this far, before you click the red X will you pause for just a moment and pray for these 23 and the others, too? Because there may be darkness but Light is greater. Ask Him to break through. Beg Him to open their eyes. Ask Him to shine. He is so bright, so glorious. Sunday healed what Friday broke and so today as I keep His name on repeat inside, I’m asking Him to break through the Friday in each of their lives.