Year B Advent 4 WEDNESDAY, 23 December 2020
Video Service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
11 When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples 2 and said to them, “Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it. 3 If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.’” 4 They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, 5 some of the bystanders said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. 7 Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. 8 Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. 9 Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
11 Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
Hosanna seems strange coming out of my mouth in Winter. But our lectionary readings point to this word, and use it explicitly in I Samuel and the Mark reading. Let no one say the formulators of the lectionary do not have a sense of humor. But their joke makes a point.
The day we have been waiting for has finally arrived!
Hosanna is an exclamation of adoration, joy, or praise. Think of it, what would you say if someone asked you the meaning of the word “Hurray!” It is hurray, it is what you say. It does not have a meaning. It is a cultural thing. Different cultures have their own hurray! And when the people lined the streets and waved their palms as Jesus rode in, it had a very clear cultural meaning.
It was the fulfillment of prophecy to boot!
He rode in on a colt of a donkey, he did not ride in on a warhorse. He was to be a Prince of Peace. And in light of that, between the Hosannas and the colt, and their messianic designation, it is obvious why on December 23 we read about the birth of Samuel and the praises of his mother Hannah, the birth of Jesus and the praises of his mother Mary, and the arrival of the Prince of Peace and the praises of the people of Jerusalem. It is very clear if you know how to read it.
And it is funny. We laugh. We laugh because laughter is the sound of freedom. A laughing spirit is a spirit that is not put down. Oppressed people do not laugh. They weep. They moan. They scream and rage. But they do not laugh.
We laugh because we are abiding in this freedom and can see the fingerprints of God Almighty sprinkled throughout history from the very beginning of time.
And the Lectionary formulators agree. Today is the day. The time has arrived. Our waiting is done. Hosanna! Hosanna in the HIGHEST HEAVEN! Amen