THEOLOGY

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 12.28.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    Almighty God, unto whom all hearts be open,

    all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid:

    Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit,

    that we may perfectly love thee, and worthily magnify thy holy name,

    through Jesus Christ our Lord.

    -The Anglican Book of Common Prayer   

  • WHEN GOD MOVED INTO THE NEIGHBORHOOD

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    “The LORD your God is in your midst,

    a mighty one who will save;

    he will rejoice over you with gladness;

    he will quiet you by his love;

    he will exult over you with loud singing.”

    Zephaniah 3:17

    The God of the universe is in the middle of your life.  If you affirm the Christian faith, you know that we claim God became man and dwelled with us.  Yet chew on the fact that throughout the history of God’s covenantal relationship with his people, “God with us” is terribly frightening.  God with us makes us quake in our shoes, because God is so unbelievably holy, big, and other.

    But then, something happened to change all of this.

    As Eugene Peterson puts it: God moved into the neighborhood.

    God experienced all that we wrestle with.  He experienced unmet desires, pain, rejection, loneliness, sorrow, and death.  Yet in his grace we are assured how he will rejoice over his children with gladness and will uplift us in much signing.  He sits with us in our pain and glories in our triumphs.

    I, for one, am so glad God moved into the neighborhood.

     

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  • HOW ADVENT AND EASTER CONNECT

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him…

    To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made use kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory, dominion forever and ever.  Amen.

    Revelation 1:1a, 5b-6

    Christians are a people rooted in Easter — rooted in the resurrection of Jesus and rooted in the hope of the resurrection of our bodies to future glory.  However, Christians are also an Advent people.  We grasp onto the Incarnation and how God-enfleshed suffered alongside humanity.  We also cling to the hope of Christ’s Second Advent– when he will come again to right the unjust powers and principalities.  When he will send the rich and powerful away empty and fill the portion of the powerless and poor, as the Magnificat reminds us.  Until then, we wait for when he will come again to judge the living and the dead.

    Yes, as an Advent people, we wait.  We wait in humility knowing full well that God’s time is not our time.  We wait in humility knowing full well that we sound like fools, claiming for centuries that Jesus will return.  While God might have waited for the fullness of time for the Incarnation of the Word in Bethlehem centuries ago, he also waits longing for all to come to faith.

    Yet in all of this we wait.  We wait.

    O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
    Our spirits by Thine advent here
    Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
    And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
    Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
    Shall come to thee, O Israel.

    __________

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  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 12.21.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    And Mary said,

    “My soul magnifies the Lord,

         and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

    for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.

       For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

    for he who is mighty has done great things for me,

       and holy is his name.

    And his mercy is for those who fear him

       from generation to generation.

    He has shown strength with his arm;

       he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;

    he has brought down the mighty from their thrones

       and exalted those of humble estate;

    he has filled the hungry with good things,

       and the rich he has sent away empty.

    He has helped his servant Israel,

       in remembrance of his mercy,

    as he spoke to our fathers,

       to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

    Luke 1:46-55

     

  • HOPE AND UNMET EXPECTATIONS

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    The Christian faith speaks into a world marked by suffering.  It also speaks into a world marked with unmet desires.  It speaks into a world marked by working harder—often for little solid gain.  It speaks into both our dark moments and in the triumphant mountain top experience.

    It speaks by confirming the words of Jeremiah by a person embodying the long hoped for longing of Jeremiah: “the LORD is our righteousness (Jer 33:16).”

    However, it is not in my righteousness that I cling to, but the righteousness of Jesus.  And he suffered in the darkness of unmet desires while thriving in righteousness.

    In Luke 13, we read Jesus’ lament,

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!”

    Jesus cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane in Luke 22, ”Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

    Jesus experienced unmet expectations and hope in the faithfulness of God.  In fact, we’re told that he rejoices when we rejoice and weeps when we weep.  Jesus offers us remarkable hope, a hope that is tangible.  A hope that has meat on its bones.

    As the Christmas hymn, A Virgin Unspotted, relays this hope:

    A Virgin unspotted the Prophet foretold,

    Should bring forth a Saviour which now we behold,

    To be our Redeemer from Death, Hell and Sin,

    Which Adam’s transgression involved us in.

    Then let us be Merry, put Sorrow away,

    Our Saviour, Christ Jesus, was born on this day.

    As we journey through the remainder of this Advent season, sit through the hope, even if it is too dark to see.  When sorrows hit, remember God experienced our pains.  He experienced our sufferings.  Even in seasons of unmet expectations, there is a glimpse of hope in the one who experienced unrealized expectations.

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  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 12.14.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    If indeed it be necessary, O Lord, to bury the workman that my work may be finished by other hands.  Help me never to think of myself as indispensable.  May I be content to die with my work undone, knowing that my task is to work at the fulfillment of your purposes, not to work them out.

    -Anonymous

  • THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD AND THE KINGDOM OF THE MESSIAH

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    “and He shall reign for ever and ever…King of Kings…and Lord of Lords…Hallelujah!”

    It wouldn’t be quite the Christmas season if we didn’t hear a rendition of Handel’s famous “Hallelujah” chorus.  Perhaps you heard it on National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation recently or from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, this tune is pretty familiar within the Western world (and rightly so!).

    But do you know where these lyrics come from?  They don’t come from Handel’s mind. They actually come from the Book of Revelation.

    Wait, that book?  Yes, that one.

    It comes in the middle of the judgments associated with the Trumpets in Revelation 11.  We read that the 7th Angel blows his trumpet at the beginning of the 3rd woe and the loud of voice of heaven exclaims,

    “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever.”

    Why, you may wonder, would this glorious exclamation be categorized under a woe?  After all, this is the same tune that helps Clark Griswold christen his home!

    This can be considered a woe because the kingdom of this world (read: all our corporate and personal kingdoms of power, prestige, reputation, and wealth) is overshadowed by the kingdom of the Messiah.  Those who want to be kings and queens of their own “castle” will one day have their false reign overthrown, as the rightful reign of the King of Kings is made fully known.

    Yes, my friends, the kingdom of this world and all the injustice therein will be removed and the Kingdom of our Lord will be completely known.  And he shall reign forever and ever.  Hallelujah!

     

    (This post was originally seen on December 23, 2014)

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  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 12.7.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    My God, I wish to give myself to thee.  Give me the courage to do so.

    -François Fenelon

  • MONDAY MORNING PRAYER 11.16.15

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Liturgy

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    Every Monday, I run a series on this blog that bring written prayers that I have found encouraging.  It is my hope these written prayers will help encourage you at the start of each week and they might draw you closer to Jesus.  You can find the whole collection here.

    Lord, it is my chief complaint

    That my love is weak and faint;

    Yet I love thee, and adore;

    O for grace to love thee more!

    -William Cowper

  • WHY THERE NEEDS TO BE OPEN TABLE COMMUNION

    AUTHOR: // CATEGORY: Growth, Liturgy, Theology

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    My wife and I recently worshipped at a Lutheran Church and appreciated the liturgical, gospel-centered service.  However, there was one element that left a remarkably sour taste in my mouth.  It was the notion of a closed table at communion.

    Theological Differences End At the Table 

    Granted, church traditions will always have different understandings of communion.  There will be different views across the spectrum of Christianity, this is a historical guarantee.  Roman Catholics, Orthodox, Lutheran, Reformed, and Baptists all believe something different when it comes to the Eucharist.  However, our differences should pale in comparison to the unity of sharing a common meal.

    Bread and wine

    In the First Century, Paul wrote to the church in Corinth:

    23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for[e] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[f] 25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.  I Corinthians 11:23-26

    Jesus did the most ordinary of things when he was with his disciples for the last time— He shared a meal with them.

    He took bread and passed it to his friends.

    He took wine and shared it too.

    Differences between each of the disciples were put on hold, as they ate and remembered the story of Passover.  Personality clashes paused for a moment, as Jesus reconstituted the direction of the Church with a new identity.  An identity rooted in following Jesus.

    Anticipation of Unity 

    The table also offers the prospective hope of unity when the Kingdom of God has been fully revealed.  Right now, we eat and drink at the communion table in anticipation of the great feast of Jesus the Messiah, as depicted in Revelation 19.

    One day Jesus will return, and He will put the world to rights.  He will unify his people, and Roman Catholics will sit next to Lutherans and Russian Orthodox will sit next to Pentecostals at the feast of the Lamb.  What better way could we prepare for this day then to open the communion table to all baptized Christians?  Certainly each person must come to the table with a heart made ready through a time of reflective repentance—that’s a given.  However, a Baptist should be able to drink the wine (or grape juice!) and eat the bread alongside a Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Anglican on any given Sunday.

    For the sake of Jesus, let’s not overlook our differences, but at least demonstrate unity.