category: Advent

Advent Reflection: Day 25

Wednesday, December 23

1 Samuel 2:1–10; Mark 11:1–11

Hosanna moments. We all need them, those moments when we cry out, “Lord, save us!”

This past May, I called my friend Elaine because she had been on my mind for several days. She said to me, “Paula, I have had such a glorious time in the hospital with the Lord.” I thought she was being sarcastic. She was serious.

Elaine had a terminal lung disease and her condition had worsened, so she was admitted to the hospital. During the first few days of her hospital stay, she was placed on the Covid–19 floor, because her symptoms mimicked the virus. It was hospital protocol. She was tested for the virus and was required to wait on that floor until her test results came back negative. It was there that she had her “glorious time with the Lord”—on the Covid–19 floor of the hospital!

At first, she wrestled with the Lord. Her Hosanna moment. Lord, save us! Then she surrendered her will. It was then that she saw them. The doctors and nurses. She saw them with her eyes before, but now she was seeing with her heart. Her hospital bed was adjacent to a window next to the transition station, where medical professionals would put on and remove their protective gear. In and out they came. Doctors. Nurses. Other medical professionals. Elaine began praying for them. She was overwhelmed by the love and compassion that she saw in their eyes. Beneath all the gear were compassionate caregivers who wanted every patient to get well. Elaine prayed. Her prayers became her mission. She found purpose on the Covid–19 floor. And she found presence. She found the presence of the Lord within herself and all around her as she prayed, “Hosanna! Lord, save us!”

Elaine tested negative for the coronavirus. When she returned home from the hospital, she was placed in Hospice care. The lung disease was well–advanced, and a few weeks later, Elaine passed.

Like Elaine, many of us have had Hosanna moments this year. Moments when we have cried out, “Lord, save us!” In our lectionary readings for today, we learn of Hannah who cries out to the Lord for a child. A Hosanna moment. The Lord answers her prayer, and she celebrates by dedicating her son, Samuel, to the Lord. We read of the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, the palm branches and clothing spread out on the ground, the people shouting Hosanna, which means, “Please, save us!” The Hosanna moment. It is a cry for help with hopeful anticipation. Both of our readings are set in a time of crisis amid religious and political turmoil. Both declare a Hosanna moment, and both celebrate the presence of the Lord.

Crisis. Turmoil. Uncertainty. Fear. These words are all too familiar. Our own crises invite us to cry out, “Hosanna! Lord, save us!” Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. And He shows up, bringing joy, hope, and peace.

Paula Qualls
Professor of Religious Studies

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