Sunday, December 3, 2006

A Triumphal Entry into Advent

With the old One Year Series it would have been customary to hear the account of Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem as the first Gospel pericope of Advent. Since the 3 Year Series became standard fare when I became a pastor 19 years ago, I honestly can't recall preaching on this account at any time in my ministry - until today. Curious as to how others may have handled such a text normally reserved for Palm Sunday, I searched the internet for ideas. Much to my surprise the homeletical treatment of this text for Advent was a desert. The Luke 19 reading is listed as an alternate, and predictably the first text from Luke 21 is usually used. Quite honestly, I would not have used the second text had not our pre-printed CPH bulletins chosen it for me (the lectionary within a lectionary??). Interestingly, the One-Year series in LW uses the Luke 19 pericope rather than the older Gospel from Matthew 21, which is from TLH.

At any rate I found Jesus' entry into Jerusalem the perfect Advent text. For the theme of Advent, as the word itself implies, is the "coming" of Christ. It was a relief not to have to repeat one more week of End Times texts, even though I appreciate the emphasis it gets in our lectionary at the end of every year. But here was the theme of Advent in a nutshell. Jesus comes to His people, even though some do not want him. He comes to the praise of his followers, as well as to the distain of his ememies. And He comes of his own accord and in His own way - seated humbly on a borrowed donkey. He never waits for His people to ask for his coming. So, despite the fact that the Pharisees would just as soon seen him march the other way right out of Israel, Jesus enters into the holiest of cities, and not for glory -although He rightly receives it. He comes to suffer and die on our behalf. He comes to sacrifice his very body on the altar of the cross for our salvation. He comes, his glory 'hidden' under the shame of sin and death.

Today I was also pleased that Advent One came for us on a "Communion Sunday." For what more appropriate way to emphasize the coming of the Christ among us even now than to taste and see Him in the Holy Supper! We poor sinners who deserve only death and hell, who hide our faces from the holy God out of shame, were still graced by His presence. What a moment of pure grace!

I hope that CPH uses this Gospel again soon. Now that I've preached on it I'd like to go to it again. It seems the perfect start to this season.

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