False to True Worship

Jesus Christ is the one who enables true worship, and the one who redeems human beings from the curse of false worship.

—Noel Due, Created For Worship:  From Genesis to Revelation to You, 20

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The Hiding Place

Hail, sovereign Love, that first began the scheme to rescue fallen man!
Hail, matchless, free, eternal Grace, that gave my soul a hiding place!

Against the God Who rules the sky, I fought, with hand uplifted high
—despised the mention of His grace, too proud to seek a hiding place.

Enwrapped in thick Egyptian night, and fond of darkness, more than light,
madly I ran the sinful race, secure without a hiding place;

but thus th’ eternal counsel ran: Almighty Love, arrest that man!
I felt the arrows of distress, and found I had no hiding place.

Indignant Justice stood in view. To Sinai’s fiery mount I flew;
but Justice cried, with frowning face, This mountain is no hiding place.

Ere long, a heavenly voice I heard; and Mercy’s angel-form appeared,
Who led me on, with gentle pace, to Jesus Christ, my Hiding Place.

On Him Almighty Vengeance fell, that must have sunk a world to hell.
He bore it for a chosen race, and thus became their Hiding Place.

Should storms of sevenfold vengeance roll, and shake this earth from pole to pole,
no flaming bolt could daunt my face—for Jesus is my Hiding Place.

A few more rolling suns, at most, shall land me safe on Heaven’s coast.
Then I shall sing the song of grace to Jesus Christ, my Hiding Place.

—Jehoida Brewer (1752-1817)

Life

In Christ the new life has already begun. . . . He is Life Eternal, the Fulfillment, the Resurrection and the Joy of the world. The Church is the entrance into the risen life of Christ; it is communion in life eternal, “joy and peace in the Holy Spirit.” And it is the expectation of the “day without evening” of the Kingdom; not of any “other world,” but of the fulfillment of all things and all life in Christ. In Him, death itself has become an act of life, for He has filled it with Himself. . . . And if I make this new life mine. . . then my very death will be act of communion with Life.

—Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World: Sacraments and Orthodoxy, 106

One Mediator

The Christology of Hebrews also undoes forever any notion of mystical communion with God. By this, I mean that communion which bypasses Christ to have a direct experience of divine enlightenment, or some numinous spiritual feeling. This is important when we see many contemporary worship songs, activities and approaches which emphasis the inner psychological/emotional state of the worshipper and use it as the criterion to decide if worship has been effective or not. Hebrews will not let us replace the mediation of Christ with the mediation of the worship leader who is able to engender an effective response, which is then interpreted as direct communion with God.

—Noel Due, Created For Worship:  From Genesis to Revelation to You, 181

The Only Priest

The exalted Lord Jesus Christ is the only priest we need for constant access to God (Heb. 8:1-6; 10:19-23). Our ‘altar’ is the cross, where Jesus shed his blood to make us his holy people (Heb. 13:10-12). Since He was ‘sacrificed once to take away the sins of many’ (Heb. 9:28; 10:10, 14), there are no prescribed rituals for us to follow. Worship is to be expressed in every sphere of life, as a grateful response to the saving work of Christ.

—David G. Peterson, Encountering God Together, 20

Our Exalted Advocate

Christ is our Mediator not only in that He once reconciled us to God and gained for us grace and salvation, but in this sense that He evermore lives on with God, as Head of the Church as our Advocate.  To Him the faithful belong but, as they proudly confess, He is now elevated to the right hand of God.

—Josef A. Jungmann, The Place of Christ in Liturgical Prayer, 135