Parade of Praise

When I read in my Bible about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, I imagine crowds of people lining the road, waving palm branches and throwing down their coats. The crowd joyfully praises God for who he is and what he is doing. The kingdom of God has come and the one who brings salvation is here!

It sounds like a parade. It’s Jesus we’re talking about, and he’s the king. It’s a little political, so maybe it was a like an Independence Day parade. Except in this parade, there’s only one float: Jesus on a donkey. I imagine lots of people, lots of noise, lots of mess on the street.

Crowds are made up of individual people though, each with their own joys and cares. I wonder about those people and how their day was going. I wonder if there was at least one tired Mom who spent her morning getting kids up, dressed, fed and organized, who shouted “Hosanna!” that afternoon. Perhaps a woman who had fussed at her husband that morning later found herself welcoming Jesus with joy.

That triumphal entry may have happened a long time ago, but the concerns faced by the women in the crowd were not fundamentally different from ours. A couple of days ago I took a walk with a friend and spent the first fifteen minutes complaining about the calendar collision of a big drumline competition, the school musical, and my husband being out of town. “This schedule is ridiculous!  I’m so tired,” I grumbled to my friend. The cares of the day depleted me.

Robbie Castleman’s writing recently reminded me that the purpose of worship is to bless God. My heart should cry out “Bless the Lord, Oh my soul!”, but too often I fear my cry is more “Bless My soul, Oh Lord!” It is challenging to worship God when the temptation is to regard worship as an opportunity to rest and recharge, or worse yet, to be entertained. The crowd by the side of the road was certainly not resting! They were not entertaining each other either. They shouted for God’s benefit, for his glory.

I wonder if lifting their voices in praise to God and rolling out the red carpet for Jesus made any difference in their day. I wonder because I know it makes a difference for me. If my morning is crazy… If I’m upset, worried and stressed… taking a few minutes to remind myself of who God is and what he has done changes my whole perspective.  That walk the other morning ended with my friend leading me away from my frustrations and toward worship.

My friend and I used scripture to acknowledge who God is and offer Him praise accordingly...

Salvation is found in no one else. Acts 4:12

God is our refuge and strength. Psalm 46:1

He sustains all things by his powerful word. Hebrews 1:6

When I pause to bless God, he often turns right around and blesses me. Praising God reorients me, shifting the upset, worry and stress to its proper place, which isn’t the driver’s seat of my life. When I remember who God is and what he has done, it becomes far easier to also remember that God loves me and he’s taking care of me. That is really all I need.