Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Gospel reading this week strikes some as a surprise. People who are not in a fairly liturgical tradition would likely not expect this reading until about a week before Easter. In it, Jesus enters Jerusalem, recognized as the king. Surely this is a misplaced reading?
In fact, it is not misplaced at all. It’s quite deliberate. As we have entered the time of Advent we are looking to the coming of Christ. In the prophetic readings the various comings of Christ tend to be collapsed in on one another. The disciples expected a Messiah to come as a king who would usher in the end of the world immediately. In practice, Christ seems to have several different comings. In his first coming, he was born. Fully God and fully Man, Jesus was born of a virgin, under the law, to redeem those under the law. Some thirty to thirty-three years later, Jesus came into Jerusalem. He entered as the king who would spread his reign to all his subjects. This is the image we find in Mark 11. The king of peace comes seated on a donkey. The people prepare his way and recognize him. They ask for God’s salvation to be on their people and God’s blessing to be on their king. What of the future? At some point in the future, a time which we do not know, Jesus will come to gather his people to himself. It wil all happen. It’s just taking more time than we might have thought based on the Old Testament.
Jesus is the one who comes riding on a colt of a donkey. This is no war horse. This is the move of a king who comes in peace. May the peace of the Lord be with you in this Advent season.
By the way, Advent is maybe a little vague and difficult to put on the calendar. There are a variety of traditions. However, most Christian traditions start the season of Advent on the Sunday closest to November 30. Therefore, it can start as early as November 27 or as late as December 4. It has four Sundays. The last Sunday of Advent is the Sunday immediately before Christmas. Advent calendars normally start on December 1, so they may start a few days early or late. November 30 is the day of Saint Andrew, the first disciple of Jesus. He heralded the coming of Christ to others, so the timing of his day leads to the period of Advent. Advent is a time set aside to look forward to the coming of Christ. It is historically a time of fasting and prayer, combined with eager anticipation of Christmas, which begins on December 25.
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