Sunday, April 17, 2011

Create in Me a Clean Heart

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
         And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
-- Psalm 51:10

Today is Palm Sunday in Western Christiandom.  It is the religious observation of the event in Jesus' life where he entered into Jerusalem for the "final showdown" with the limiting and cacophonous voices that were driving a wedge between the people and God.  The story is that Jesus sent his disciples out to find a donkey and it's colt.  They brought it to him and Jesus got on the donkey
and rode it into Jerusalem amidst a fanfare of people - men, women, and children - throwing their cloaks on the ground ahead of him, waving tree branches, and shouting, "Hosanna!  Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!"  

For what reason was Jesus coming to Jerusalem that day?  Different branches of the church put different spins on the story to answer that question.  I find that a traditionally orthodox interpretation resonates within my soul the best.  Orthodoxy answers the question by saying, Jesus was following the plan that God was implementing to bring about our salvation.  Human beings have a difficult time staying on a steadfast "good" track with their lives.  Life is messy and in living life you can get pretty messy and dirty.  Hearts get twisted and corrupted and cynical and closed and even ugly.  We experience anger and hurt and are prone to retaliation and hurting back.  We can even get so bad with everything that we shake our little fists and curse at God.

Like his birth, Jesus came in one of the most humble ways possible for the Messiah to arrive.  He came for the same purpose as King David spoke in the 51st Psalm -- "Create a clean heart..."  It was not just for his own clean heart that he rode into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday; it was for all of our hearts, yours and mine included.

The Hebrew word for create here is the kind that only God is capable of creating.  Like we can create a table and chair, God creates the tree; or we can create the pretty window through which to see a sunrise, but it is God who creates the sun that comes up to set that window ablaze with color.  Through Jesus Christ riding into Jerusalem that day, God created an open door for us to find the clean hearts He was intent on creating.  All the darkness and misery, separation and turmoil we create in our lives get erased with how God creates the means for a clean heart in the wake of our misdeeds.  So, in light of this magnificent creative act unfolding every minute throughout this Holy Week let us shout, "Hosanna!  Blessed IS He who comes in the name of the Lord."

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