During Advent this year, I will be reflecting daily using this Advent Photo Devotional. The word designated for today is #Royal.
One of my favorite Advent hymns is “Prepare the Royal Highway,” by Frans Mikael Franzen. The text is so beautiful and does a beautiful joy with its Swedish folk tune melody to capture the excitement of the season that accompanies the waiting, wondering, and preparation. It’s also a nice way to tie yesterday’s word, “Prepare” with today’s focus on “Royal.”
The hymn text reads (or sings):
Prepare the royal highway; the King of kings is near! Let every hill and valley a level road appear! Then greet the King of glory, foretold in sacred story: Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word!
God’s people, see him coming: your own eternal king! Palm branches strew before him! Spread garments! Shout and sing! God’s promise will not fail you! No more shall doubt assail you! Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word!
Then fling the gates wide open to greet your promised king! Your king, yet every nation its tribute too may bring. All lands will bow before him; their voices join your singing: Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulfills God’s word!
His is no earthly kingdom; it comes from heaven above. His rule is peace and freedom and justice, truth, and love. So let your praise be sounding for kindness so abounding: Hosanna to the Lord, for he fulls God’s word!
Earlier today my wife and I took advantage of what might be the last dry day for at least a week by putting up some Christmas lights outside that were dropped off earlier this morning by a friendly church member. You see, we have never lived in a house, only in an apartment. Thus, we have never really needed to have outdoor lights. It was fun to put them up as we prepare in this early part of Advent for Christ’s coming. We might not have branches to strew before our king today, and it might be a bit cold and wet to lay our coats down, but at least we have put a few more lights out to greet him.
In thinking about Jesus as King, I am reminded of Christ the King Sunday from just over a week ago. Jesus is no earthly king. His kingdom is built on love and service, not rules and people created order and boundaries. We face many challenges in the world today- like global climate change, fundamentalism of all kinds, and terrorism, as well as the major needs of people who are refugees in an unfamiliar land with an unsafe home to go to and many homeless near and far. In facing these challenges, we are confronted by the fact that Emmanuel, “God with us,” is a God whose rule is “peace and freedom and justice, truth, and love.” We’re part of that. Some times we might be afraid to admit that we are called to be a part of that work, and our fear keeps us from heeding that call.
It’s in these times where we are afraid to act, that we need to remember the royalty that is God in Christ. “God’s promise will not fail.”
Event though I am grateful to be able to spread some light and welcome Christ through the hanging of lights today, I wonder, if Jesus might rather have us overcome our differences and fear to welcome the homeless and refugees with signs of love and warm hospitality? Because after all, Christ is among the person in need and with them, just as Christ is with us. Instead of laying down our garments for some king as part of a caravan, maybe, just maybe, we’re called to spread our garments for our neighbors in need looking for a place whose gates are wide open to welcome them. What do you think?
Hymn Credit: “Prepare the Royal Highway,” by Frans Mikael Franzen. Swedish folk tune. Found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2006), 264.