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The Hypocrisy of Hosanna

Red and black bows in honor of the Covenant School accompany the regal purple cloths of Easter
at churches around Nashville.

Every year I eagerly await the advent of Spring: the budding trees, the ground’s greening, the earthy smell of tilled soil. Our world becomes lush, almost overnight, and the ubiquitous spring fever is a joyous contagion.

This year, though, in my hometown of Nashville, there is a cruel incongruity between the beauty of Spring and the grief hanging over our city. After the deadly school shooting this week, the smells and sights of the season feel like bitter mockery.

Our hearts have been plunged back into winter.

The massacre hit too close to home for me: only a mile from the school where my husband teaches and a mile from the school where my daughter works. There is a smallness to the private school community in Nashville, where it seems we are all related, through various degrees of separation, to someone from the Covenant School. And for those who know no one at that school, there is still an icy fear that grips us: It could have been my child.

Will it be them next?

Worry over who is next is predicated on the premise that there will be a next time—that, once again, no action will be taken to prevent another attack. We teach our children to run, to hide, to fight. If only those precious faces could teach us adults: to stand up, be brave, take action. Hurry and grow up, little children. Our world needs the sobering wisdom you’ve learned in classroom active shooter drills. Perhaps you can teach us to value life.

One of the news reports detailed a mother, waiting in the designated reunification church, receiving news that her child was one of the three killed. The reporter said that the wail the mother emitted was a primal sound like nothing we could imagine.

On the contrary. I’m sure any mother can hear that primal scream, can feel it to her very marrow, can imagine that the one thing we fear most in the world—losing a child—would create a chasm of grief so immense that we are forever changed.

And yet Spring marches on, with platitudes like “thoughts and prayers” tossed around on the swaying maples. I find myself on the verge of weeping, but I’ve come to realize they are not only tears of sorrow.

What I feel is unmitigated rage. And I don’t know how to reconcile that anger with Easter peace.

I’m angry at myself—ashamed of the hopelessness I feel. I’m frustrated that our state has some of the most relaxed gun laws in the country. I’m disgusted at the Tennessee congressman who thought his family toting assault rifles on their Christmas card was appropriate. I wonder if he’s heard of the Prince of Peace. I’m angry with lawmakers who are motivated by greed and power rather than a desire to protect their constituents.

I’m outraged at people who argue that bad people will always find a way to get a gun. Maybe. Or maybe not. Maybe the school shooter would not have had the wherewithal to illegally purchase a gun. Or seven. Maybe the extra trouble would have delayed or deterred her.

And I’m angry that maybes—the possibilities of saving even one life—are not even worth pursuing.

This week, I’m humbled by the heroic police force in our city. And at the same time I’m ashamed to be a Tennessean. Rep. Tim Burchett, from East Tennessee, said nothing can be done about the phenomenon of gun violence; his only ideas were repentance and revival. Burchett’s theology stands in complete contrast to my Christian faith. The people of Jerusalem didn’t just shout Hosanna; they spread palm branches. And if I remember my Bible correctly, Jesus encouraged action, not platitudes. He preached against the very self-centeredness that permeates our Congress.

Symbolizing victory over death, palms represent the change that Jesus was about to bring to the world through his Crucifixion. Tomorrow, palms will be waved in churches all over our city. But when we’re through waving our palms in sanctuaries, once the Hosannas are silenced, what will we do? Where does our anger go?

Hosannas without action are just hypocrisy.

3 thoughts on “The Hypocrisy of Hosanna

  1. Thank you once again Melissa for saying and expressing what NEEDS to be said!!! Why our representatives will not take action is beyond belief. As a pediatrician, I am in despair as legislators decide the care and the safety and the health of our children and families. I CRY for our kids, for our parents, for Tennessee, for our Nation.

    Liked by 1 person

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