Today the Church - well, the Western Church at any rate - begins a new year of grace! And on this first Sunday in Advent for century upon century the Church had read and pondered the message of the prophet Zechariah, foretelling our Lord’s entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
Palm Sunday? At the start of Advent? It never fails to strike as strange those who forget that it is Advent we are beginning today, and not Christmas. The world sees no need for Advent - for repentance and preparation - also the world that lives inside of our hearts.
It wants to leapfrog over Advent and plunge right into the joy of angels and shepherds and Wisemen. But the Church in her wisdom says “no.” No, because if the joy of Christmas is going to be all that God intends it to be for His people, it needs to be received in hearts that are stilled and quiet, in hearts that have come to see the sorrow of sin and long to be freed from it. "Stir up Your power, O Lord, and come that we may be rescued from the threatening perils of our sins..." It needs to be received In hearts that understand Christ’s three-fold coming and can pray with fervor: “Come, Lord Jesus!” in the full meaning of that prayer.
Only such hearts are prepared to receive the fullness of the joy that lies in the Christmas Feast - a joy far brighter than tinsel and infinitely more satisfying than an endless round of parties and gluttony.
So on to Jerusalem! On to the One who comes riding in on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. See with your eyes. But believe with your ears. That is the key. What you see will offend you. What you hear will astonish and delight you. And what you hear is the deeper truth. "Your King comes to you!" Let us greet Him with songs of joy, repentant hearts, and eager longing! Amen.