It’s Maundy Thursday of Holy Week. Palm Sunday seems a long time ago. Children waved palm branches at church. It felt good to rejoice in the triumphal entry of the One who would surely be King and bring vindication and victory.
But when the the palm branches turn brown and the “red-carpet” of cloaks is put away, unresolved conflicts remain. Evil presses in, not as easy to identify as we thought. Sin wins the day, both personally and corporately. Friends transform into enemies. Favorite doctrines and laws lose their luster. Disappointment, cynicism, and fear blind the eyes.
If today we didn’t know what Holy Week would bring, we would be filled with longings and regrets, perhaps we’d even join the mob mentality of the Jews as Passover approached. Or perhaps we’d find ourselves cowering and cowardly as were the disciples.
At these times, it’s hard to see the Light, feel the Hope, hold onto Courage. Some of us feel overcome by a sense of failure, helpless yearnings, and hopeless waiting.
In the confusion surrounding the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus, perhaps Jesus’ followers turned to words of the Psalmist David:
“How long, O Lord? … How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death…” (Psalm 13).
Even today, David’s poetic psalms speak to our emotions.
God still gives us poets who have the ability to express our heart longings. One such poet is James Troy Turner. Like Jesus’ followers who were not highly educated, who had few of this worlds goods, but who felt the burden of sin and oppression and wanted to believe that a Deliverer would set them free—so James Troy Turner expresses the neediness and longing of Holy Week with these verses:
Deeper and deeper into the open arms of death,
As the world lives, then what time is left.
We push and we pull, filling our lives
With only the promise of tomorrow.
And where is the light?
How I long for the days of
My simple youth.
You could believe all they said—
You knew it was true.
A man was a man always,
True even to himself.
The good he would buy—
Top quality on each shelf.
But those days are past,
I think never to be again.
Listen hard what they say—
Truth and lies in a spin.
I am so far off the bubble
sitting idle in all this rubble.
It really doesn’t make any sense;
reality is left so unraveled,
no common sense, I’m left baffled.
(verses excerpted from the book, POEMS by James Troy Turner)