Palm Sunday

by Gifford Savage

Hail the Christ of our Palm Sunday:
The triumphant, mighty king, 
riding in majesty, pomp, and glory.
Acclaimed by an adoring crowd.
But, when (God forgive us) 
did we turn the Christ into Caesar?
Perhaps it has always been so?
The attraction to the ‘strong man,’
the powerful leader.
They are what we want to be.
They do what we secretly long to do:
smite our enemies,
punish them as they deserve,
exact retribution on those who have wronged us –
or those we think have wronged us!
Deliver our idea of partisan justice.
Put down the ones who are not like us,
who don’t see the world as we do.

So, god is made in our own image.
A little god we can understand,
a god we can admire,
a god of might-is-right
with power to force and compel,
who shares our petty prejudices.
We make him small, yet
call him ‘Almighty’ and ‘Omnipotent.’
Terrible as a tyrant,
wielding an iron fist in judgement,
condemning sinners to burn in hellfire, 
torture, and torment – 
for ever and ever. Amen.

We cannot believe that God is like Jesus.
Yes, he was compassionate, 
gentle and kind once,
but, we think, Christ in glory 
is not like the Jesus who came in humility!
Now he sits on high – 
we thrust upon him the trappings 
of what we think a king should be.
We give him the golden throne and crown
that he would not accept on earth.

We still don’t see the glory of Christ,
giving him a glory of our own. 
Today we try to nail him down 
with doctrine and dogma.
We transform the power of love 
into the power of hate and fear –
turn service and humility 
into domination and pride. 
As the crucified One 
looks upon us and weeps.

Gifford Savage is from Bangor, Northern Ireland. His poetry has appeared in a number of journals, including Poetry NI, Lagan Online, Poetry 24, The Bangor Literary Journal, The New Verse News and previously in Agape Review. He has performed his poetry on local television station ‘Northern Visions TV.’

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