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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Start:Stop - The Messiah who comes in peace

Bible reading

The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” The crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21. 6 – 11)


Ever since the days of the Early Church, Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem has been the reading for the first Sunday in Advent. The Latin word “advent” means “coming” — quite appropriate because at the beginning of each Church Year we await the first coming of the Messiah — as the baby in the manger. That child is the incarnate Son of David, the One who comes in the name of the Lord, the one who rides into Jerusalem on a donkey.

The crowds on Palm Sunday saw Jesus the Messiah humbly riding into the City of David and called out to Him, “Hosanna,” a Hebrew word which means “Save us now!” This indicates that for them thousands of years of waiting were finally over. The Messiah who will save and redeem God’s people had finally arrived. (

The words that the crowds shouted along the way all come from Psalm 118. That psalm belongs to what are called the Hallel Psalms, psalms sung at all the major festivals in Jerusalem. The words would have been well known. The cries included: “Hosanna to the Son of David”; “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD”; and “Hosanna in the highest.”

These cries were addressed to Jesus as “Son of David.” There was no doubt in the minds of the faithful that this Jesus was the Messiah, the heir to the throne of David. This is confirmed by the exclamation, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD.” In Psalm 118 the sentence was a priestly blessing for the king who led the people in procession to the sanctuary to offer praise to the Lord. But it had come to be a word of praise to God for the coming of Messiah; Jesus, who had been widely recognized by His followers as “the Coming One.” And so when the people repeat their “Hosanna” to God in the highest, they are praising God for sending them the Messiah, the Saviour of Israel. (

The disciples chanted "in heaven peace and glory in the highest." It can be no accident that what they chant in Jerusalem's streets echoes what the angel's sang in the night fields of Bethlehem over 30 years before. Then they sang, "Glory in the highest to God and upon earth peace among men." God's highest glory is to declare that in His Son He is at peace with a world that is at war with Him. (

So, here is 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 enemies. 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. (

The message of Advent is that Christ comes in peace, He comes to serve, and He enters this world to receive our joyful praise. “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

In this Advent of expectation draw us together in unity, that our praise and worship might echo in these walls and also through our lives. In this Advent of expectation draw us together in mission, that the hope within might be the song we sing, and the melody of our lives. In this Advent of expectation draw us together in service, that the path we follow might lead us from a stable to a glimpse of eternity. God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.

You challenge us this Advent time, this season of preparation, to put aside our pride and understand our need for repentance, forgiveness and mercy. Less of self, more of you, preparation for our journey to the stable and beyond. Purify our hearts, sanctify our lives, that we might serve you faithfully this day and all days. God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.

People of God: awake! The day is coming soon when you shall see God face to face. Remember the ways and the works of God. God calls you out of darkness to walk in the light of his coming. You are God’s children. Lord, make us one as we walk with Christ today and for ever. God of hope, who brought peace into this world, be the peace that dwells between us.

The Blessing

Our Lord says, ‘I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. May the Lord, when he comes, find us watching and waiting. And the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, rest upon you and remain with you always. Amen.


The Piano Guys - O Come, O Come Emmanuel.

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