The Biker Blessing last Sunday meant over forty motorcycles were parked just outside our doors near the Activity Center where our 11:15 service is held. Although there were a variety of beautiful bikes out there, the dominant brand was the Harley-Davidson. Now I'll tell you up front that I have never owned a motorcycle, and the closest I ever came to wanting one was when we were traveling through the Black Hills of South Dakota a week before the die-hard motorcyclist's holy pilgrimage to Sturgis. Driving through the incredibile beauty there, I found myself wishing to permanantly park the van and throw my leg over a Harley and chase the freedom of the open road.
Besides, Harleys do bring back memories of growing up in Detroit, where my father was in the motor unit of the police force for most of his years on the job. He not only handed out a good share of tickets on Gratiot Avenue, but he was also a part of the motorcade that led the way for many VIPs who visited to the Motor City. The VIP's included a President and Vice President, but the ones I cared about the most was when the Tigers won the world series in 1968 and he was a part of the parade the city threw for championship team. At one point, slugger Willie Horton was on the back of his Harley during the celebration - a definite moment of pride for a young boy who loved baseball more than presidents and dignitaries. To this day, I remain disappointed that I wasn't actually there to see it and only know it second hand.
A few years after his retirement, I asked him about what it took to be a part of parades of this sort, and he could describe stacks and stacks of memos and directions, meeting upon meeting to cover details, and hours upon hours of preparation on the bikes themselves. It was clear that parades don't just happen. Everyone needed to know exactly what they were doing in that parade at every moment.
And yet on a Sunday a couple thousand years ago, the procession of Palms and pilgrims that filled the road into Jerusalem had a much more spontaneous feel. Yes, there was a prophecy from Zephaniah, and yes there were parades with the policians of the day. But as I approached my first Palm Sunday in Omaha, I spending time going over the details of that day Jesus rode on atop that donkey amid the cries of "Hosanna" and "Blessed be the Name of the Lord!"
What struck me that particular day was the thought: "Outside of Jesus, did any one else really understand the nature of this parade? Even though they cut the palm branches and lined the pathway with them, did they realize the real victory that they would point to? When they took off their outer cloaks and laid them before Jesus as he slowly made his way through the throngs of people, did they realize the true nature of the Kingdom of God and what it means to lay down one's life before this King?"
Such were my pondering as the image, the lyrics and the melody began to form in my mind. Even though there is no indication that anyone had a clue of the kind of king Jesus had come to be, at that moment they were untied - one voice, one song, one prayer, one cry - "Hosanna!" A simple, yet profound prayer: "Lord, Save Us!" What a President named Nixon (or any other president for that matter) couldn't do, Jesus did. What a championship team of players named, Horton, Freehan, Kaline, Lolich and McClain couldn't deliver, Jesus did. No wonder that after almost two thousand years, we still cry out: "Hosanna!"
Recording Notes: I believe this was the first new song I brought to the praise group in Omaha. At the time, I was still new and the players on the team were new to me. But as I brought this song in, it was Steve G who jumped in with his electric and began working on this new song we'd share as special music at the upcoming Palm Sunday service. Right away, I knew his guitar riffs were the perfect compliment to a rather fun acoustic groove I came up with on this song. In my years in Omaha, it became a standard for Palm Sunday and every year the congregation would jump in and sing it out. The one segment we added on the recording was the longer ending. It allowed us to have a little fun with Christopher Walken's famous SNL skit: "it could use more cowbell." In this case Tony G did a good job trying to live up the chops of Will Ferrell and Troy even added some maracas to the mix. With Michelle and Joel providing the background vocals, the live sound was captured for the CD.