O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded

Recently I have been teaching our preschool students about the events of Holy Week as we prepare for Easter. In our Bible story about Palm Sunday, we read about how people started recognizing Jesus as He was entering Jerusalem, riding a young donkey. The people had heard about or even seen some of His miracles, healing people, feeding thousands, casting out demons, and even raising the dead! The people proclaimed Jesus as the True King, saying, “Hosanna!”  

As I told the story, the children carefully helped me lay palm leaves in a row in front of Jesus’ donkey - a figurine in our sandbox.

And yet, there were just a few people who were not happy about Jesus. It was some of the leaders of God’s People in Jerusalem! They heard the people saying that Jesus should be the leader, and they were jealous of Jesus and became angry. They even started thinking of ways to get rid of Jesus!

“Uh oh!” we said together. As we read this part, some of the children would become concerned. A look of consternation clouded their small faces, and their brows would furrow. “Why?” they would ask, “Jesus didn’t do anything wrong! He just helped people, healed them, and loved them.” 

The children’s dismay and concern for Jesus stemmed from a place of knowing Jesus’ goodness and His love and affection for them.

I wonder if, at times, we as grown-ups can skip over the sad part of Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion. Perhaps we just accept that Jesus died as a neutral fact, just as we might read another historical statement like the Titanic sinking. As we approach Holy Week, I invite you to join me in setting a bit extra time aside to be with Jesus. Read a Gospel, mull over it, spend time in your imagination thinking about Jesus’ words and the way He loved people … the same way He loves you and me. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to grow our affection for Jesus as our friend, and in so doing, the Spirit will also grow a holy grief that is fitting for Jesus’ death.

One of my favorite hymns is “O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded,” and I invite you to meditate and pray through these verses with me today:

O sacred head, sore wounded,
Defiled and put to scorn:
O kingly head, surrounded
With mocking crown of thorn;
What sorrow mars thy grandeur?
Can death thy bloom deflow'r?
O countenance whose splendor
The hosts of heav'n adore!
What language shall I borrow
To thank thee, dearest friend,
For this thy dying sorrow,
Thy pity without end?
Oh, make me thine forever!
And should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never
Outlive my love for thee.
The Rev. Naomi B. Sundara
Chaplain to the Preschool
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