In preparation for my visit to St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale next week, I’ve been thinking about the word, hosanna, and how we hear and use it. When I learned that it did not mean “Hail” but “Save us,” it changed my reflections on Holy Week and, indeed, the Eucharist. When we sing or say hosanna in the 21st century, what does it mean to beg for salvation? It is the exploration of this, soteriology, that has evolved over the years.
Many decades ago now, Rosemary Ruether asked if a male god could or should save women. People generally ask what others are being saved from or for. The church has seen itself as offering the path to salvation, but that is an increasingly irrelevant role in a desperate, cynical world.
The ideas I want to explore this Holy Week have to do with some other questions about salvation. I want to think about what being in relationship with the Jesus of the gospels has to do with our own humanity? What might salvation look like in the 21st century? How do Bill Nye, Karen Armstrong, the Dalai Lama, Eckhardt Tolle amongst others, fit with the lessons of the gospel? Do Christians have any salvation left to offer? What do we need saving from and for?