Meditation for First Wednesday of Advent

Introduction

The season of Advent is a time when the thinking of the Christian diverges strongly from that of the secular world; we become completely out of step with the secular world. The secular world is, right now, all caught up in “Christmas Time” in the most thoroughly secular sense of that phrase. There is all of the  shopping, and cooking, and eating and drinking, and partying, and much truly indecent revelry, that people will indulge themselves in for the next several weeks, all in the name of “Christmas,” and all of which has absolutely nothing at all to do with Christmass, the true Christmass. Right now, Christians are lagging behind the secular world, taking time out for the season of Advent, the season of preparation that precedes Christmass.

In order to intensify our Advent experience, I will, just for the period of Advent, be writing a short meditation on Wednesdays each week, a reflection on an Advent hymn. From beginning to end, the major theme of Advent is prepare to meet thy God. This means that we prepare to receive Him as the Holy Infant born in the manger in Bethlehem of Judea some 2000 years ago, but we also prepare to meet him when He comes at the end of time as the King of Kings and Judge of the World in His Second Coming. Thus there is this sort of double focus, leaning a bit towards the Second Coming, that takes our thoughts completely out of the secular whirl of “Christmas Time” before the feast of Christmass arrives.

The Advent hymns draw on some of the most vivid imagery in the whole Bible, coming from the Prophets, the Gospels, Revelation, and elsewhere. The music enables them to bring further power to the Scripture passages that they are conveying, so that we have both words and melody to convey the meaning. After we know the words, it is often quite enough simply to hear the melody, and the words reappear in our thoughts spontaneously. Let these hymns be a blessing to your Advent preparation this year. Any comments you would like to make on these meditations would be most welcome. Please simply write me a comment. With this introduction, then let us turn to the Advent hymn for the first Wednesday in Advent.

Ride On! Ride On in Majesty

If you recall the sermon from last Sunday, the Gospel lesson for the day was St. Matthew, 21:1–13, which describes Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of Holy Week. At first blush, it seems like this should be a lesson for Palm Sunday, but as was pointed out in the sermon, we can get more out of the story than simply the Palm Sunday events. We can see how Jesus will arrive when He comes as King of Kings and Lord of Lords, being widely recognized and acclaimed as such by all those who are prepared to receive Him. Those who belong to Him will recognize Him and will be known to Him.

He will enter the City and occupy His throne for Judgement at the Second Coming, just as the final line of the last verse describes with the words, Then take, O God, thy power and reign. At His First Coming, He went in to cleanse the Temple, at His Second Coming, the Judgment will be far more terrible and final.

When we look at this as a picture of the King of Kings, riding to the Last Judgement, some parts of the hymn are difficult to reconcile. What are we to make of those parts that speak of Christ’s suffering and death? We know full well what they mean in the context of Holy Week, but how do we make sense of them in a Last Judgement context? I am going to do a little bit of speculative theology here. We know that Jesus Christ will be the Righteous Judge, that there will be no error in His judgements. But we also know that He is compassionate, that He was willing to go to the Cross for all of us. When it comes to the point where He must condemn many of mankind to eternal death, I think that this is going to be a sort of death again for Jesus, a pain and a true suffering, for Him to have to do it after all that He has invested in us.

Text, by Henry Hart Milman, 1827:
Based specifically on St. Matthew 21:9
Commonly sung to the hymn tune Winchester New

1.  Ride on! ride on in majesty!
Hark! All the tribes hosanna cry;
Thy humble beast pursues his road
With palms and scatter’d garments strowed.

2.  Ride on! ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die:
O Christ, thy triumphs now begin
O’er captive death and conquer’d sin.

3.  Ride on! ride on in majesty!
The angel armies of the sky
Look down with sad and wondering eyes
To see the approaching sacrifice.

4.  Ride on! ride on in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
The Father on his sapphire throne
Expects his own annointed Son.

5.  Ride on! ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
Bow thy meek head to mortal pain,
Then take, O God, thy power and reign. Amen.

Here are some YouTube sources for you to hear the hymn:

King’s College, Cambridge

All Saints Church Oystermouth Swansea(organ only)

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About Father D

I am a priest of the Continuing Anglican Church, the continuation of orthodox Anglicanism into the present 21st century. My theology is definitely that of a Reformed Catholic point of view, neither Roman nor Calvinist.
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2 Responses to Meditation for First Wednesday of Advent

  1. lizp4 says:

    Simply beautiful! Thank you!

    • Father D says:

      Liz,

      Thanks for the encouraging comment. It is nice to find that a few people took the time to look at it. It is always good to hear from you.

      Father D+

      ________________________________

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