Advent 2

For the great and powerful of this world, there are only two places in which their courage fails them, of which they are afraid deep down in their souls, from which they shy away. These are the manger and the cross of Jesus Christ. No powerful person dares to approach the manger, and this even includes King Herod. For this is where thrones shake, the mighty fall, the prominent perish, because God is with the lowly. Here the rich come to nothing, because God is with the poor and hungry, but the rich and satisfied He sends away empty. Before Mary, the maid, before the manger of Christ, before God in lowliness, the powerful come to naught; they have no right, no hope; they are judged.

—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas

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Thankfulness

O Lord, that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.

—William Shakespeare in Henry VI, Part 2

Gratitude is the heart’s memory.

—Anonymous

Thou hast given to me so much . . . Give one thing more—a grateful heart.

—George Herbert (1593-1633)

In everything give thanks.

—1 Thessalonians 5:18

Be thankful for the smallest blessing, and you will deserve to receive greater. Value the least gifts no less than the greatest, and simple graces as especial favours. If you remember the dignity of the Giver, no gift will seem small or mean, for nothing can be valueless that is given by the most high God.

—Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471)

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one;
Count your blessings,
See what God has done.

—J. Oatman, Jr.

Thanks Be to God!

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.

—Cicero in ORATIO PRO CNAEO PLANCIO, XXXIII

Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grow. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.

—Henry Ward Beecher

The worship most acceptable to God comes from a thankful and cheerful heart.

—Plutarch, c. 100 A.D.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God

—Philippians 4:6

Scriptural Singing

By the Eighteenth Century, writers such as Isaac Watts, William Cowper, John Newton, and the Wesley brothers felt at liberty to compose freely words of praise that were not strict paraphrases of Scripture. But they still felt strongly the obligation of being sure that their words were Scriptural if not Scripture. Often in those early days hymns were printed with the biblical references that justified their content appended at the end of every verse or even every line. 

—Donald T. Williams, “Something Old and Something New: The Worship Wars and Christian Ministry,” 4

Only Christ

Biblically speaking, no worship leader, pastor, band, or song will ever bring us close to God. We can’t shout, dance, or prophesy our way into God’s presence. Worship itself cannot lead us into God’s presence. Only Jesus Christ Himself can bring us into God’s presence, and He has done it through a single sacrifice that will never be repeated—only joyfully recounted and trusted in.

—Bob Kauflin, Worship Matters: Leading Others to Encounter the Greatness of God, 74