As I was thinking about this page, and preparations for the new church year and the Advent season—coming up with a midweek Advent theme—I came across the Higher Things Reflections for Advent and Christmas from a couple of years ago. Higher Things is a Missouri Synod youth organization, and Reflections are its year-round daily devotions. The devotion for the First Sunday in Advent was written by Pastor George Borghardt of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church and School in McHenry, Illinois. I found it quite helpful for focusing on the meaning of Advent. I quote part of it here:
“And the crowds going before Him and following him cried out saying, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David. Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Hosanna in the Highest!” (Matthew 21:9)
Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. He’s coming! The Lord is coming: to you, for you, as one of you, to save you. Jesus is coming! That’s the Advent season!
Advent looks a lot like Christmas. The world thinks Advent is Christmas. The world celebrates so much Advent as Christmas that by the time they get to Christmas Day, they are all Christmas-ed out!
But Advent isn’t Christmas! Advent is an entire season of its own, just to prepare you for Christmas. It’s a penitential season of violet repentance. So turn from your sins. Knock down the mountains of pride and sin in your life with the Lord’s words. Fill the valleys—the low points of your life—with forgiveness. Get ready! Prepare! The Lord is coming! [© 2016, Higher Things, Inc.]
The First Sunday in Advent zooms past Christmas and Epiphany, past the three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry, zooming in on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Advent begins at Holy Week. What’s up with that? This is nothing new about Advent; the Church has observed this for centuries. Advent brings us to the culmination of the other penitential season, Lent. It brings us to Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. “The kings of the world rode around on horses and chariots. That was a sign of their power and strength! But Israel’s King rode humbly on a donkey. The alone was the Son of David’s strength!”
“And as the King advented into His city, His people sang.” We, His people, still sing that song, after all these years. “Hosanna to the Son of David!” Hosanna, in Hebrew Hoshia na, means “Save now!” His people sang out, “Save us, Son of David! Save us in the Highest!” Indeed, He will save them, “not with force of horses or chariots, but on the Cross!”
Advent is also John the Baptist, the Forerunner and Herald of our Coming Lord, being sent to “Prepare the way of the Lord” (Lk 3:4; Isa 40:3). His all-important preparatory ministry reminds us to wait with patience, and while waiting to prepare for His Advent, His Coming. John reminds us that the Coming One comes to us in the water and the Word, and there also He saves us, as He advents His Cross and Sacrifice to us. In Baptism Jesus fulfills the song, “Hosanna! Save us now!”
Blessed is the Coming One! Hosanna to the One coming to save you,