Emmanuel! (5)

Welcome, all Wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span.
Summer to winter, day in night,
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little One! Whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth.

To Thee, meek Majesty! soft King
Of simple graces and sweet loves.
Each of us his lamb will bring,
Each his pair of silver doves;
Till burnt at last in fire of Thy fair eyes,
Ourselves become our own best sacrifice.

—Richard Crashaw (1613-49), “The Holy Nativity of Our Lord God: A Hymn Sung as by Shepherds” (there are many choral settings of this text)

Emmanuel! (4)

Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becamest poor;
Thrones for a manger didst surrender,
Sapphire-paved courts for stable floor.
Thou who wast rich beyond all splendour,
All for love’s sake becomes poor.

Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man;
Stooping so low, but sinners raising
Heavenwards by Thine eternal plan.
Thou who art God beyond all praising,
All for love’s sake becamest man.

Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship Thee.
Emmanuel, within us dwelling,
Make us what thou wouldst have us be.
Thou who art love beyond all telling,
Saviour and King, we worship Thee.

—Frank Houghton

Emmanuel! (3)

In the Christian story God descends to reascend. He comes down; down from the heights of absolute being into time, and space, down into humanity . . . down to the very roots and seabed of the Nature He has created. But He goes down to come up again and bring the whole ruined world up with Him. One has the picture of a strong man stooping lower and lower to get himself underneath some great complicated burden. He must stoop in order to lift, he must almost disappear under the load before he incredibly straightens his back and marches off with the whole mass swaying on his shoulders.
—C.S. Lewis, Miracles

Emmanuel! (2)

Are you in a desert?
He is the living water.
Are you on a mountain top?
He is higher still.
Are you in a dark place?
He is the Light of the world.
Are you in the sunshine?
His glory is brighter.
Are you in confusion?
He is the Answer.
Are you content?
He is your source.
Are your thoughts and heart troubled?
He is the Prince of Peace.
Are you happy and singing?
His presence surrounds you with joy.

Whatever situation you are in today—God is with you.
Enjoy Emmanuel!

—Belinda Kuhn

The Real Worship War

We are not in a worship war. Well, yes we are, but not the one some commentators like to refer to. There is only one worship war, and it is between God and Satan, each the supreme object of someone’s worship, either redeemed or lost. We are self-absorbed when we use the “war” word as a working term for the petty and overly self-indulgent skirmishes that we enter, almost always over transient, not eternal things.

–Harold Best, “Traditional Hymn-Based Worship,” in Exploring the Worship Spectrum: 6 Views, 60

Music in Its Place

As much as I love music . . . we have placed far too much faith in it and not nearly enough in the power of the Word, the authority and sweep of fearless prophecy and earnest, yet hope-filled, intercessory prayer. I have often wondered what would happen if we got music out of the way, especially in its upfront dress, and spent abundant time in interceding prayer, reading and searching the Scriptures, sitting in silence, prophesying and perhaps only then singing and making music.

—Harold M. Best, Unceasing Worship: Biblical Perspectives on Worship and the Arts, 140

Worship as Response

[Sorry for the gap in posting. Have been overseas.]

All Christian worship is basically our offering of obedience and gratitude to God’s giving in Christ our Lord, foretold in the Old Testament, fulfilled in the New Testament, remembered and received anew in Divine Worship, in sermon and sacraments. That response to the Gospel of God is given by the Body of Christ in prayer and praise and dedication. In stately cathedral or in hillside chapel, in parish church or in meeting-house, in whatever tongue, whether with ceremonial or with only the barest minimum, in set liturgy or in freer forms of worship (or in silence, occasionally broken by the devout meditations of the obedient servants of Christ, as in the case of the Society of Friends), it is the mighty acts of God in the redemption of the world through our Lord Jesus Christ that are represented, and the benefits which are appropriated.

Horton Davies, Christian Worship, Its Making and Meaning, 101