Now to the gate of my Jerusalem,
The seething holy city of my heart,
The saviour comes. But will I welcome him?
Oh crowds of easy feelings make a start;
They raise their hands, get caught up in the singing,
And think the battle won. Too soon they’ll find
The challenge, the reversal he is bringing
Changes their tune. I know what lies behind
The surface flourish that so quickly fades;
Self-interest, and fearful guardedness,
The hardness of the heart, its barricades,
And at the core, the dreadful emptiness
Of a perverted temple. Jesus come
Break my resistance and make me your home.
This poem is from Malcolm Guite, part of his book Sounding the Seasons. This was just what I needed to hear this morning.
I said the other day that I felt unprepared for the Lenten Season this year. In the past I have been more intentional about giving something up, even just FaceBook, in an attempt to focus on the season. The intentional abstaining is not an attempt to gain the merit of God, it is instead an attempt to discipline this flesh of mine to focus on the reality of a God who became man, who conquered all through the ultimate humbling and sacrifice. The God who redeemed. Redeemed all…but also me.
Sometimes that is still difficult to contain in this brain of mine.
This hardness of heart and fickleness that mark me, more than faithfulness and tender heartedness. These barriers that I continue to let stand.
I needed to hear a soft word today that recognizes that following Jesus is not simple, although there are moments of great praise and worship…there is also the moment of confusion and of reversal. The moment when God does the unexpected and does not simply ride in and conquer all the enemies.
The moment when we wonder what God is doing.
Palm Sunday is that day when we grasp hold of the idea of a Messiah who rides in and understands all our pain and suffering and fears and hopes…and we cling to the idea that He will change everything. We cheer and we hope and grasp.
He does change everything, but it won’t be the way we expect. He broke all the expectations in His death and in His Resurrection…and He continues to break my expectations.
It is good to grasp hold of Him and to cheer and to hope….but to do so with caution and with understanding that His plan may completely reverse what we think should happen. His plan, though….it will utterly change everything.
I have not had an intentional season of Lent…but my focus is clearing this week. Even this morning as I wait to attend church tonight…my heart is longing for the reality of the Incarnation to take deeper root. Waiting anew for Jesus to break my resistance and make me His home. Waiting with an awareness that the darkness of Good Friday, the confusion of God surprising us in His path to victory, will come before the celebration of Easter. Thankful for poets and musicians to lead us in this week through the culmination of Lent…