Early summer always takes me back to a little peninsula on a little lake in northeast South Dakota. I spent two of my summers working at NeSoDak Bible camp...two of the best summers of my life hands down. Summers filled with lakeside campfires while the sun was setting in the west, early morning polar plunges, breakfast with french toast sticks, serious and silly talks in the cabins, one minute showers, and of course weekends spent in the laundromat and eating Chinese food. But beyond all the fun and silly memories, I cherish moments that deepened my faith.
One weekly event at camp was the Christ hike. A narrator would take the campers around camp to see the life of Christ portrayed in different dramatic scenes...Jesus being baptized by John the Baptizer, the healing of the blind man, the triumphal entry, the garden, the trial, the crucifixion, and (Hallelujah!) the resurrection. I don't think a week went by that I was not touched in some way by the portrayal. I was reminded of one unsettling feeling today as our Pastor preached on the triumphal entry. During the Christ hike, the narrator would line up the campers in two rows as Jesus and his disciples approached (usually four disciples with no donkey...this was a low budget, high impact production). The narrator would start shouting "Hosanna! Praise Jesus!" as others would join in. And I'll admit, there was always an awkward feeling that not many people really wanted to make that public proclamation...and not because they didn't love Jesus. But about 10 minutes later, the onlookers found themselves watching Jesus before Pilate and the narrator would begin the taunts of "Crucify Him! Crucify Him!" And this is what has always bothered me, it was much easier to join in the crowd chanting "Crucify Him!" than it was to join the "Hosannas!"
That experience still leaves me unsettled today, but also got me thinking about other areas of my life when I'm all to eager to join in "Crucify Him", but a little short on the "Hosannas!" I admit, I'm all too quick to judge others making what I perceive to be poor choices. I spend way too little effort praising God for how He may be working in their lives. I'm too quick to write someone off as a lost cause when they may be one moment away from finding salvation through Jesus Christ. And sometimes I think many of us Christians shout "Crucify them" about various sins with more vigor than we do spreading the Good News that Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again.
So today I chose praise. Praise that God has worked miracles in the lives of my friends. Praise that God is at work in the lives of those who have had painful losses this year. Praise that God is not done working on your marriage. Praise that God is not done healing the hurts from your past. Praise that God has not given up on your loved one that has hit rock bottom. Praise that no matter who rules the land, God rules the nations. Praise that no matter what my sin has been, there is forgiveness through Jesus.