Hosanna! – 15 April 2019
This is a folk-art picture of Palm Sunday. Those gathered are surrounded by palms which can be held high and waved, while all cry ‘Hosanna’. The central figure is still in contemplation, holding a small leaf of three fronds. A palm should not be taken up and waved without a commitment to follow Christ into Holy Week.
The figures are ill defined, no faces can be seen in detail. This is a generic crowd which stands for all those who in many diverse places take up their palms and promise to follow, no matter what is ahead. The reality of following is that weariness, denial and failure are common features of discipleship. Those who cry ‘Hosanna’ are also those who shout ‘Crucify him’. Knowing this is no reason not to take up a cross and try again.
The painting is by the self-taught Louisiana folk-artist William Hemmerling (1943-2009), whose paintings were shaped by the Southern culture of the place he lived and his Catholic faith. His background was in producing store displays and advertising, resulting in images with a strong design aesthetic.
A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Let these branches be for us signs of his victory, and grant that we who bear them in his name may ever hail him as our King, and follow him in the way that leads to eternal life.
From the Collect of Palm Sunday
I give you thanks, for you are good, and your mercy is endless.
Here I stand, at the start of this holy week,
This week in which your church remembers Jesus’ passion and death,
And I am distracted by many things.
Turn my eyes now to the One who comes in your name
The one who opens the gates of righteousness
The one who answers when we call.
I bless you, Lord, for shining your light upon me,
And for sending your son to us, in human frailty.
To walk the road we walk.
Open my eyes that I may see him coming,
And may praise him with a pure heart.
And may walk in the way of his suffering,
And share also in his resurrection.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.
Rachel Marie Stone