We like to think of Jesus as only gentle and meek. In the public imagination, oftentimes this translates into a caricature of who Jesus is, one who is always nice and loving towards others. We imagine Him tame and chill, always affirming the best part of ourselves. And to finish this caricature of Jesus, we tell others to be like Jesus, which almost invariably means to be nice and accepting of others. With this caricature in mind, the Jesus we find in our passage is troubling and shocking. Jesus, in a seemingly judgmental way, drives away the money changers, overturning their tables for good measure. And then Jesus appears to be hangry and curses a fig tree for not having fruit. As we wait on Jesus, let’s think of all the ways we reduce Jesus to a rather bland and single- layered character, one that always acts nice and in ways we deemed “loving.” Let us welcome Him instead as He truly is, as He is portrayed in the gospels, as a wild, unsafe but ultimately good Lord. One who gets angry over the injustices perpetrated on the poor by the money changers, and one who calls His followers to a life of integrity, who, when united with Jesus, not only have the appearance of bearing fruit, but upon inspection, also bear much fruit. The Rev. Daniel Pinell, St. Mark's Episcopal Church & La Guadalupana de Wilson, NC.
Hosanna is a word with which we are familiar.We hear it in this Gospel passage and others about our Lord’s triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.We proclaim it with the Angels and Archangels and all the company of heaven in the Sanctus at each celebration of Holy Eucharist.It is an acclamation of praise, but it is also more.The Hebrew word from which it derives literally means “save us, please”.It is a shout of joy, but at its heart, it is also a plea for salvation - a cry for deliverance.This makes it a very apt word for our meditation during this Advent season.Just like the crowds lining the road that day into the holy city, we too are awaiting the coming of our King - the one who is to deliver us.We are preparing to once again celebrate his coming among us in his Incarnation at Christmas.But more than that we also prepare to receive him as he comes to us in Word and Sacrament when we gather to worship, as well as his return to judge both “the quick and the dead” at the end of time.Hosanna, Lord, Hosanna!Save us from the sin that binds us.Save us from all that holds us back from you. Save us, today and always, Lord, that we may be prepared to welcome you totally and completely into our hearts. Hosanna!
The Rev'd Chas Marks, Rector, St. Augustine's Church, Kansas City, MO
"When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, he said, ‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’ They asked him, ‘Teacher, when will this be, and what will be the sign that this is about to take place?’ And he said, ‘Beware that you are not led astray; for many will come in my name and say, “I am he!”* and, “The time is near!”* Do not go after them. ‘When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end will not follow immediately.’ Then he said to them, ‘Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be great earthquakes, and in various places famines and plagues; and there will be dreadful portents and great signs from heaven. ‘But before all this occurs, they will arrest you and persecute you; they will hand you over to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors because of my name. This will give you an opportunity to testify. So make up your minds not to prepare your defence in advance; for I will give you words* and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be betrayed even by parents and brothers, by relatives and friends; and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your souls." Luke 21:5-19
We stand in two worlds, the physical and the spiritual. The current events in the world, whether natural or human caused has brought a lot of people a great deal of distress and worry. Jesus comforts us in this passage of Luke by saying, “When you hear of wars and uprisings, do not be frightened.” Today’s world brings to our lives a lot of unrest. Jesus wants us to know that God is still in control. Jesus promises us he will return, but we need to continue to follow him faithfully as we wait.
Waiting on Jesus is not just praying and sitting back waiting for something to happen. Waiting on Jesus requires an action on our part. Pray to seek his help and guidance. Listen and wait for Jesus to fill us and show us the way. Remind each other there is always hope. And as the song goes: “Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born”. Share with your neighbor how you endured the hardships through of salvation of Jesus Christ. Waiting on Jesus. Pray. Listen. Remind. Share.
Linda Wallenfang Parishioner, St. Anne's Episcopal Church De Pere, Wisconsin
Each year it's the same thing. Halloween comes down, and Christmas goes up in the shops. We begin to hear the first jingle bells before the first lacy flakes of snow have even drifted down from the heavens. Stockings are hung on a pegboard by a worker just trying to make a living. Then, finally, Christmas is thrust upon us; commercial Christmas at least.
I'm an Advent purist. I have been as long as I have known what Advent is. For the last 16 Advents or so, I've longed for the world to slow down. But, unfortunately, things move so quickly on to Christmas we've hardly had any time to think about what it is we're doing at Christmas. The Hallmark Channel begins inflicting...I mean, introducing their holiday movie lineup, and we're still trying to find the manger for the nativity set. As Brooks says in The Shawshank Redemption, "The world went and got itself into a big damn hurry." By the time our tired eyes open on Christmas morn, we're too tired to imagine a little town in Bethlehem. Too tired to imagine Mary and Joseph marveling at the newborn Christ child. Too tired to understand that the world has changed, and there is no going back to the world in which God is not with us.
We need Advent. If for no other reason than we need to slow down and take stock. We need Advent. If for no other reason than we need to push back on the idea that the more gifts you have under the tree, the better your Christmas is. We need Advent. Because we need to prepare ourselves and our families to "wait."
The theme of this first digital Advent devotional being produced for St. Anne's is "Waiting on Jesus." We're waiting for Jesus at Christmas, yes. However, Advent is also about waiting for Jesus to come once more. The season provides the space to wonder what it will be like when "Lo, He Comes With Clouds Descending." It isn't just about cattle lowing, whatever that means." It's also about all of the creation yearning for God to come and make all things right once more. It's about redemption, reconciliation, and things being put in subjection under the Christ that will come for God's people at the end of the age. So Advent is about waiting, not only with our eyes turned heavenward but also as our hearts are turned inward. As we contemplate Jesus coming into the world as a Child, Jesus coming to us daily in our prayers and in our worship, and Jesus coming again to establish his Kingdom on Earth as it is in heaven.
So we wait on Jesus to come today, as he came way back then and will come some moment in the future. We wait on Jesus, and we seek to make Him known. I wish you all a very happy Advent filled with contemplation and wonder. May the offerings presented here deepen your experience of the season and draw your hearts towards the one who lived and died and rose again for us.
The Rev. Tyler C. Richards, SCP, SMMS Rector St. Anne's Episcopal Church, De Pere Wisconsin.