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What Kind of King: A Powerful Poem for Palm Sunday and Holy Week

This is a poem that I wrote and preached as the Palm/Passion Sunday sermon this past weekend at the Upper Room. A number of people have requested copies of it, so I’m making it available here.
 

What kind of king are you?

What kind of king
rides on a donkey
a donkey that might be borrowed,
or might be hijacked?

What kind of king
builds a castle
with a wide open door for children to enter
but a needle-eye sized hole for the rich?

What kind of king
rides on a donkey
into the city where
his assassins are waiting?

What kind of king
enters his assassins’ city
with a ragtag commotion for all to see
and not one security guard?

What kind of king
lets his subjects treat him like a
military liberator but doesn’t
come with a single sword or weapon?

What kind of king
lets his followers send a
public message to the competing powers
with no intent of answering a single challenge?

What kind of King are you?

What kind of King
can send two followers
to fetch a donkey
and know exactly what they’ll need to say?

What kind of king
can tell a blind beggar
“your faith has made you well.”
And actually make him see?

What kind of king
can weep at the funeral of his friend
only to say, “Lazarus, come out!”
and watch him come back to life.

What kind of king
can sit at the dinner table
with his subjects and be subject to them
and wash their feet?

What kind of king
can carry his own cross
can serve his assassin and
help in his own execution?

What kind of king
can die
so that his assassins
can live?

What kind of King are you?

A King who came not to be served
but to serve and to give
his life as a ransom
for many.

A King who keeps his promises

A King who I can trust

A King who can save

A King I want to follow

And so I come to you, King Jesus
not to be served by you
but to serve you
and to give my life to you.

So take my cloak
use it to clothe the naked
or use it for your donkey to step on.
I don’t care
so long as you’re the one taking it.

Because you’re the only one who
will give me a new garment in return,
a white robe made of saints righteous deeds,
a garment that fits so well it’ll be
a new self, your self.

Use me, King Jesus,
all of me.
As you see fit.
Make me a knight or a bishop or a rook,
or make me an expendable pawn.
I don’t care what piece I am.
So long as yours is the hand that’s moving me.

Because yours is
the mighty hand with an outstretched arm.
Yours is the hand that rules with an iron scepter,
and that knit me together in my mother’s womb.

So let me follow you,
King Jesus
all the way to Golgotha.

Let me walk next to you
and put palm branches at your feet
and shout “Hosanna!” with the children.

And if the child in me shouting “Hosanna!”
grows up to an adult shouting “Crucify!”
bring me back to the water where I can be born again.

Let me sit at the table with you
and take bread and wine from you hands
and let me lay my head on your chest.

And if thirty pieces of the world’s silver
are ever enough to draw me away
Wash my feet and make me clean again

Let me pray with you at Gethsemane
and learn from you how to be vulnerable with the Father
let me see your tears and sweat and grief.

And if my prayers give way to sleep
wake me again
with the waters of regeneration.

Let me walk with you to the cross.
Let me be Simon of Cyrene,
and learn to carry your cross with you.

And if my Simon of Cyrene becomes Simon Peter
and I walk away from your cross to deny you
lead me back to these waters where I can still die with you.

And live.

And all along this long rough road
let my song be:

Hosanna!

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!

Hosanna in the highest!

 

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I am a church-planter/pastor and campus minister living in Pittsburgh. I graduated from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary with my MDiv in 2008, and prior to that received my BA in Christian Though, with a minor in Theatre, from Grove City College. Currently, I’m living in the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill in the city of Pittsburgh and working to plant The Upper Room, a new church that is cross-cultural, sacramental, and missional. I’m also working for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship as a campus minister in their Graduate Student and Faculty Ministry at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh.