I will give thank to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.
Our journey into Advent begins in darkness, embracing the fact that we don’t know when Christ will come. But we do have an inkling of light, the hope that maybe life doesn’t have to stay this way, the hope that one day all things will be made right and good once again.
But the thing about hope is that it is not often found in the good places. Hope is found among the broken people and places where everything seems to be different than it was supposed to be. When everything is fine and well, there is no need for hope, just as there is no need for light in an already lit place.
But our world is dark. There is much pain, and suffering, and brokenness. We live in a world with vast poverty, with disease epidemics, with genocides and slavery. We live in a town with divorce, disease, death, abuse, addiction, abandonment.
As Christians, our hope in Christ doesn’t ignore those facets of everyday life. But it does provide hope in a God who is good even when the world is not. We hope in a God who heals us after the world breaks us. We have a God who loves us, and wants to be near to us. That is what Advent starts with — with our glimmer of hope in the God who is still good despite our circumstances — the hope that He will be near to us now, and the hope that He will come again and restore everything to the way it’s supposed to be.
During our worship service yesterday we lit the prophets’ candle on the Advent wreath. That candle symbolizes this hope that has been present since God first sent word to His people about His plan to redeem everything back to goodness. This week, let’s focus on watching for that hope, and embodying that hope to others around us, telling the story of the good news that we have a God who is good.
Light the Advent Candle Gospel Reading: Matt. 21:1-11
HOPE IN THE GENTLE KING
Sometimes this time of year comes in ushered by busy-ness, chaos, and the demands of our culture and our consumeristic society only add to the stress. On top of the regular holiday stress, often times these holiday days are stressful times for families and relationships as well. Broken relationships are hard to ignore, struggling relations often struggle more, and what is meant to be a season of joy is often quickly transformed into a time of pain and conflict.
In the gospel passage for today, Jesus also faces a burden of a situation. We see Him entering into Jerusalem about to fulfill wonderful prophecies about liberation, but the things Jesus was saying and doing had severely offended and threatened the religious leaders of the day, making the situation very dangerous for Him.
But, even knowing this, we don’t see Jesus storming in, taking the city by force. By His divine nature, He knows that He has claim to this city, that He could come in with the force of the God He is, but He doesn’t. Neither does He try to slip in under the radar, thereby fulfilling some of the prophecies without endangering Himself. Instead, He comes in, confident in who He is and what He’s there for, confident about the good news He embodies, but He enters also with gentleness, not grandeur.
We are to do the same in the ways that we share the hope of Jesus with others — not to come by force, or to slip by unnoticed, but to come with confidence in what it is we have to share, and with gentleness.
Hosanna to the living Lord! Hosanna to the Incarnate Word! To Christ, Creator, Savior, King, let earth, let heaven, Hosanna ring!2
2) Adapted from Reginald Heber, “Hosanna to the Living Lord: (1811), Cyber Hymnal, http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/h/t/htliving.htm.