From shouts of Hosanna to shouts of blame—why the shift?

by | Mar 25, 2024 | Faith, Writing and Reading | 0 comments |

They heaped blame upon His head. “Crucify him,” the crowd screamed. And so, He became the scapegoat; Jesus took the blame for us. But just days before the crowd outside Jerusalem had spread cloaks and branches on the road and shouted, “Hosanna!” Why the sudden shift?

We can’t know for sure, but it’s been suggested that the outside crowds—people who had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover—were not necessarily the same as the inside crowds. They more likely residents of Jerusalem incited by the Pharisees who felt threatened by Jesus. And as the crowd shouted, “Crucify him,” those who might have said, “No, no, He’s innocent, we’re to blame!” would have risked their lives.

If I had been in those crowds, would I have shifted, too?

I’m very strong on blame

As I wrote back in 2016, I love Anne Lamott’s take on trust and surrender. “These two things are almost all I want,” she wrote in Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, “but unfortunately, neither one is my strong suit. I am very strong on blame, and wish this were one of God’s values, but trust, surrender? Letting go, forgiveness? Maybe just after a period of prayer, but then when the mood passes and real life rears its ugly head again? Not so much. I hate this, the fact that life is usually Chutes and Ladders, with no guaranteed gains.”

Every time I read, “I am very strong on blame,” I laugh at the sliver in her eye and the log in mine. Do I really want to chute down the rabbit hole of blame instead of climbing the ladder of forgiveness? Apparently, yes.

When I meditate before writing, I pray about trust, surrender, and forgiving trespasses. As Anne Lamott wrote, “I cannot will myself into having these qualities, so I have to pray for them more often… I have to create the habit, just as I had to with daily writing, and flossing.”

I pray for forgiveness even as I learn to forgive. Help. I pray for habitual focus on the key to God’s house. Thanks. I pray for the courage to open that door. Wow. To become a more beautiful person toward others.

Inwardly confessing versus outward blame

Two years ago, I wrote about Beautiful People Don’t Just Happen: How God Redeems Regret, Hurt, and Fear in the Making of Better Humans by Scott Sauls. In his book, Sauls shares himself as a deeply flawed human being, as all human beings are—never good enough. “Our failure to measure up even to our own standards leaves us feeling defensive, ashamed, and prone to medicate and hide. It makes us bristle at things like scolding, shaming, and condemning, while also—and ironically—turning us into people who scold, shame, and condemn.” Sauls takes us down into the basement where fingers point inward in confession instead outward in blame. 

I am not a beautiful person Yes, I’ve known failure, loss, suffering, and struggle, and by the grace of God, was able to keep going. That said, I’ve also had moments of appreciation, sensitivity, and understanding. But I have a long way to go toward being consistently filled with compassion, gentleness, and loving concern. And so I pray.

Praying about blame

Back to Anne Lamott. “I pray not to be such a whiny, self-obsessed baby, and give thanks that I am not quite as bad as I used to be (talk about miracles). Then something comes up, and I overreact and blame and sulk, and it feels like I haven’t made any progress at all. But it turns out I’m less of a brat than before, and I hit the reset button much sooner, shake it off, and get my sense of humor back. That we and those we love have lightened up over the years is one of the most astonishing sights we will ever witness.”

If I keep my whiny, self-obsessed, blaming, sulking, bratty self in front of me so I can see my sins for what they are, maybe I, too, can confess, reset, and climb the forgiveness ladder. And shout, “Hosanna!” And see the glory of the Lord in this lovely little Siberian Bellflower, blooming in our meadow.

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