This Sunday we start over with the church calendar and we light the first candle of Advent to mark the first step in our annual liturgical journey through the life of Christ, the long-promised and chosen King. It is a journey that begins with our approach to Bethlehem and the birth of the King in the royal city of David (Advent/Christmas.) It is a journey that will bring us to the coming of the magi to offer their gifts to the infant King, whose birth was heralded by a star appearing in the East (Epiphany.) It will bring us into the wilderness of fasting of the Spirit-anointed King and His temptation to take the kingdom by some other means (Lent). Our journey will begin to climax in the events we remember in Passion Week–our Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) His coronation–with a crown of thorns and His death on the Cross (Good Friday), His glorious resurrection and victory over death–the chief enemy of His people (Easter.) It will lift our focus to His ascent to His throne at the right hand of the Father in heaven (Ascension) and culminate in our celebration of His baptism of His earthly kingdom with fire and the Spirit (Pentecost.)
The resounding message of our liturgical journey is the message of the Holy Gospels: The kingdom of heaven is at hand! The King, Himself, has come! The Gospel reading for 1. Advent is the account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. It is a reminder that the King whose birth we celebrate in this season is the same King who came to die for the sins of His people, and the same King who has promised to come again to judge the living and the dead. Appropriately, on Sunday, we will sing the advent hymn: O Lord, how shall I meet thee (singing a few verses of the original in German: Wie soll ich dich empfangen). The hymn which touches on the “triumphal entry” theme of the Gospel reading is sung to a melody we also associate with Good Friday: Passion Chorale / O sacred head now wounded.
And so as we approach the humble birth of the King in the manger, we are reminded of His coronation week and what crown He chose to wear–taking Adam’s curse of thorns literally upon his brow so that He might “make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.” Joy to the world! The Lord is come. Let earth receive her King.
If you are not already a member or regular attender of Christ Church, and you live in Berlin, please consider joining us for this amazing journey! It starts this Sunday!
The Lord be with you!