Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle-bow shall be cut off, and he shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. For I have bent Judah as my bow; I have made Ephraim its arrow. I will arouse your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece, and wield you like a warrior’s sword.
In these times, when we feel like exiles in a foreign land…
In these times, as we hanker after an age that felt so much clearer than the confused and uncertain now…
In these times, the great and glorious past (the days of packed churches, world peace, community as family, children safely playing in the streets…) calls to us to be made real again in the mess of the present…
In these times, we hear again the words of hope:
Lo, your king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
This king of restoration, as we of the Gospel now know, does not victoriously recreate our hoped-for past of exaggerated memory. This donkey-riding king, breaks into our lives this Advent, in this time and place, to restore us completely.
As I face the reality of personal ill health, my hope is limited and imperfect – broken by experience of the human lot.
But the Christ of cradle, humanity, cross and glory, restores us to the life we cannot see or imagine: the place of wholeness, justice, humility and peace – the kingdom out of reach.
In these times, the Christ-child reaches out as the Spirit blowing through the now; calling us, calling me to live in hope, because His radical kingdom already is!
In these times, hope is not dead, not even when streets are crowded with Nazis flags and ‘Britain First’ leaflets, not even when terror still strikes, or when missiles fly in provocation.
The hope that the human mind struggles to see, clouded by false memories and the hard reality of life, is ready to reach out and restore us again and again and again…
So, face this day with a spring in your step and a smile on your face, for Lo, your king comes to you and fills you with boundless, extravagant, unexpected hope!
Loving king, You come to us again, riding into our hearts with humility. Release us from misleading memories, Restore us beyond our narrow hope, Replenish our reserves and help us to rejoice; to dance and shout in joy that in these times, your Kingdom will come on Earth as in heaven. Amen
The Rev’d Martin Knight is minister of St Paul’s URC, South Croydon.