The new Church Year begins by focusing on the humble coming of our Lord. “Look, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Mt. 21:5; Gospel Lesson). Even as He was born in a lowly manger, so Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a beast of burden. For He bears the sin of the world. He is the Son of David riding to His enthronement on the cross, where He shows Himself to be “The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jer. 23:5–6; First Lesson). Our Lord still comes in great humility to deliver His righteousness to us in the Word and Sacraments. Before receiving Christ’s body and blood, we also sing, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt. 21:9) And as we receive the Sacrament, we set our hearts on His return in glory, for “our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed” (Rom. 13:11; Second Lesson).
The First Sunday of Advent is traditionally known as Ad Te Levavi, which are the first Latin words of the Historic Introit assigned to this Sunday from Psalm 25. Ad Te Levavi means “to you, I have lifted up” (Ad te levavi animam meam Dominum = “to you, O Lord, I have lifted up my soul"). An Introit is a chanted or spoken psalm that traditionally followed the Confession and Absolution and preceded the Salutation (“The Lord be with you.”) that begins our Service of the Word (p. 7). Introit means “entrance,” and it was during this psalm that the pastor or priest and those involved in the service would “enter” the chancel and altar area.
Our King, Jesus, is coming. He first came with palms and the singing and shouting of the crowd into Jerusalem. He comes as a triumphant king, yet he is riding on to die. Through the waving palms and the crowded street we see the true willingness of our Lord to suffer in our place. Our King, Jesus, is coming. But now we wait for him to come on the clouds. We cling to God’s gracious love in Christ as we prepare and wait for the Savior’s return.