At one of my previous churches we always took people to the Grand Canyon. It was amazing to watch the 8th graders see one of the greatest things God has ever created. On one of the first nights we were there, we would take a walk. The faces of the kids would light up as they would take pictures over the vast canyon. I made this visit several times, and it never got old. One of the things I found odd was that mules would take people up and down the canyon. Mules are very funny looking animals. We would watch the kids move out of the way every time the mule train passed. The 8th graders would pinch their noses at the smell, as they constantly had to move around the mule poop. On one of my favorite trips, we had to wait an hour so a mule that had died could be removed. A helicopter had to be flown in so it could be lifted out. The kids were amazed watching this happen. What I find funny is that here we have this majestic formation that God made, and included in His creation is this weak looking animal that carries people up and down this beautiful canyon.
This weekend our lesson is much the same. Here is our great King, and He comes into town riding on this donkey. It is like the Grand Canyon and a mule; the comparison is between something so awesome and something that is weak and humble. Kings didn’t do things like Jesus did. They rode in their big chariots and showed off their kingly riches. Jesus was a different type of king; He was humble. This week we begin Advent, and remember the first time the world ever saw a different kind of king. We reflect on the way in which the world accepted God’s idea of a king. Years before, the people had begged God for a king, and what they got was a variety of selfish men who wanted to rule the world. They saw natural wonders similar to the Grand Canyon, and wanted to make those things their own. They could never have enough; then God intervened and gave the people the kind of king that He originally wanted them to have. The disciples saw this happen before their own eyes. Can you imagine what it was like when they had to go get the donkey for Jesus? They had to be thinking, Why does this guy want a donkey? He could have something greater.
As God moves us along on our train of sanctification we stop at stations to stare back at our kingly selfish nature, and recognize how that attitude puts us in bad places. There are times when we don’t even like what we look like. In those moments we pray that God would restore us and help us to go forward. In Advent we are reminded that it took Jesus coming to this world in a humble way--our only way out of the pit of our selfishness. God restores us through a baby, and we begin the Church Year in that mindset, and in preparation for what God is going to do with us this year.