(Zechariah 9:9-10, Romans 13:11-14, Matthew 21:1-9)
I will tell you a fable today. Do you know what a fable is? It's a fairytale, but with animals as protagonists, and usually it's about important things. Sometimes it can be about being helpful or humble. This fable is about hope.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, an old donkey lived in a village. It was a pretty wise old donkey, who came from a long line of wise donkeys. And these donkeys were wise because they carried their wisdom on to their foals through stories. That way, their foals, got all their parents' wisdom, and added their own, each generation becoming more filled with stories and tales, thereby becoming wiser than the last.
Anyway, this donkey was telling her foal, who was actually a colt, almost grown, the story of her life. She was a really old donkey, and had had a rich and interesting life. But, the foal had, to be honest, heard many of the stories before, and actually thought his mother was repeating herself quite often, as many half-grown children often think of their parents.
But there was one story the colt loved to hear over and over again.
”Mom”, he said, ”please tell me the story of your first journey!”
The mother also thought it was the best story of all, and she told it happily.
”As you know, my son, I was not born here in Bethphage (that was the name of the village where they lived). As a matter of fact, I come from a village in the north, called Nazareth, in Galilee. There, the grass is always fresh and green, because there is a great lake there, and the grass, and the leaves are more fragrant there than anywhere else.”
The foal closed his eyes and tried to imagine the green grass and the water. He had never seen a lake, and tried to picture it in his mind. Maybe it was like a really big puddle.
”In Nazareth I lived with Anne and Joachim and their daughter Mary. My mother lived there too, and my grandmother. Our people were kind to us, they gave us good food and did not make us work too hard. Mary, especially, I liked a lot. She used to scratch me behind the ears.”
The foal smiled. He too loved to be scratched behind the ears.
”One day I was sent with Mary and one of the neighbor boys, Joseph, on a long journey. Mary was heavier than before, and at first I did not understand why. But after a while I found out that she was with child. Child, that's what humans call their foal.”
The colt laughed. Child...what a silly word!
”Only a short distance from here, in Bethlehem, the child was born. And what a child it was! I have seen many babies, both before and after that baby, but he was special. There was something about him. I was there when he was born, he was born in my stable! And I got to carry him to Egypt and all it's wonders, and I carried him back to Palestine after many years. And I tell you, my son, there has never been a human like him.”
And the son asked, as always:
”What was his name, mommy?”
”He is called Jesus.”
”And where did he go?”
”I do not know, my son. We lost touch. But I know we'll meet again. There is something about him, he is special. I long to see him again, I do. He is worth waiting for, of that I am sure.”
The colt shook his long donkey head. He had not lived for very long, but he had never met a human that was that special. Some of them were kind, yes, but to long for one? Unless, of course, there would be honey involved.
The spring sun warmed their backs as they were standing outside their master's house in Bethphage. All of a sudden, they heard noise. They looked in the direction of the sound, and saw two men approaching. To the donkeys' extreme surprise, the men untied them and led them away. They were so surprised, they did not even put up a fight, and if one knows how donkeys work, that must have been a great surprise indeed!
The men, who had kind eyes and soft hands, put their cloaks on the donkey and her foal. And then, the animals saw another man approaching. The donkey jolted, there was something about him...something familiar... When he put his hand on her muzzle, she remembered, she felt his scent. He also greeted her son, the colt. And when the donkey saw her son prance and dance with joy, she smiled.
”See? Did I not tell you he was worth waiting for?”
The man, who she now knew was Jesus, who she had carried as a baby, sat up on the colt. It was the first time the young donkey carried a human, and he moved ever so carefully. The donkey mother's heart swelled with pride.
Then she held her head up high, as much as a donkey can, and started walking towards Jerusalem. There were people everywhere, there was a din and a noise, and under her hooves she felt cloth and leaves. It felt like her son was carrying a king. He, a simple donkey from Bethphage! But the memory of the warmth of his hands and his smile erased every doubt. This was what she had been waiting for her whole life, What a story to tell!
The whole world has been waiting. The city of Jerusalem, also known as Zion, has been waiting. The donkeys, the sparrows, the bees, the cat fish and the snow leopards have all been waiting. The bluebells and the corn cobs have waited. And we have been waiting. We have waited for Jesus to come, with peace, and justice, and life for all. For him to come to us and make the world and nature whole again. The night is far gone, the day is near. Christ is coming, the Son of David, and at the beginning of each new church year, this day, hope is lit anew. One day the weapons of war shall be destroyed, one day terrorist acts and environmental distasters will end. He is worth waiting for and just like the donkeys in my fable, which might be true, we can carry that hope in our hearts. He will come back, in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest heaven!