Monday, November 28, 2011

Riding on a Donkey

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem and came to Bethphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and he will send them at once.” This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, “Say to the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your king is coming to you,humble, and mounted on a donkey,on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden.’” The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and put on them their cloaks, and he sat on them. Most of the crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.” Matthew 21:1-11

I grew up in a town where everything seemed to be about image not about reality. A playmate of mine was brought to kindergarten in a limo. As we got older, kids went to France and the Alps on vacations, and got brand new cars when they got their drivers' license. It was showy and often sad, as these wealthy kids were often left with hired help, and had little interaction with their parents. We were poor, living on a pastor's salary and sometimes I was embarrassed by my hand-me-downs and our old beater cars. As I became an adult I learned that I was given a great gift. I could see right through the glitz and the show, and because I wasn't impressed (I'd seen it all before), I could find the person hiding behind all the expensive tinsel.

Jesus was a celebrity and was at the high point in his fame. He chooses to enter Jerusalem on a donkey, the humblest of animals, and to connect with the people not with the powerful or rich. He reached out to the least and even when they were celebrating him, he came humbly into their midst and ignored the negative press. He knew people's hearts and nothing showy impressed him. Tenderness and compassion were his identity and that of his followers. In this season of Advent we are invited to put our compassion and tenderness out front and forgo the glitz, tinsel and the need to impress. It is so easy to get caught up in the competitive shopping and decorating, when Jesus really wants our hearts.

Today I ask God to help me live a tender and compassionate life. Let my first thoughts today be for the care of others, my first actions be in love and tenderness. May this season be one of gentleness and humility, so that our hearts may truly be ready for the coming of the Christ child. May we be humble as we find our way to that humble stable that changed the world.

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