Traditionalism (6)

The search for worship that is gospel-true, heart-resonant, and culturally relevant has taken several turns over the last half century. Some movements have sought release from formalism and traditionalism; others have found renewed appreciation for ancient forms of worship that link the contemporary church to its primitive roots. Each has sought to unchain the church from cultural norms that keep the worshiper from experiencing the reality of Christ. The norms that some want to escape are what they consider anachronistic traditions that have deadened church culture. The norms that others want to escape are the secular consumer values that they think have invaded church culture.

—Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Worship, 69

Paradise Is Unlocked

Come, then, let us observe the feast. Come, and we shall commemorate the solemn festival. It is a strange manner of celebrating a festival; but truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is ended, the devil confounded, the demons take to flight, the power of death is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been implanted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.

Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He has come on earth, while being whole in heaven; and while complete in heaven, He is without diminution on earth. Though He was God, He became man; not denying Himself to be God. Though being the impassable Word, He became flesh; that He might dwell amongst us. He became flesh. He did not become God. He was God. Wherefore He became flesh, so that He whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger, so that He, by whom all things are nourished, may receive an infant’s food from his virgin mother. So, the father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the magi may more easily see Him.

—John Chrysostom (4th Century A.D.)

Big Prayer to a Big God

Enlarge Thy kingdom, O God, and deliver the world from the dominion and tyranny of Satan. Hasten the time, which Thy Spirit hath foretold, when all nations, Whom Thou has made, shall worship Thee, and glorify Thy Name. Bless the good endeavors of those who strive to propagate the Truth, and prepare the hearts of all men to receive it; to the honour of Thy holy Name. Amen.

—Bishop Wilson, AD 1663

New 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

Final Worship

The worship of God is the most eschatological activity of the church, since it will endure into the final kingdom and indeed become so all-pervasive that there will be no need for a temple in the city of God, for “its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb,” and “the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Revelation 21:22-23).

—Geoffrey Wainwright, Worship with One Accord: Where Liturgy and Ecumenism Embrace, 31

Faithful

From the depths of hell I call the fiends, and for this earth I call the tried and afflicted believers, and to heaven I appeal, and challenge the long experience of the blood-washed host, and there is not to be found in the three realms a single person who can bear witness to one fact which can disprove the faithfulness of God or weaken His claim to be trusted by His servants.  There are many things that may or may not happen, but this I know shall happen—

He shall present my soul
Unblemished and complete
Before the glory of His face
With joys divinely great.

All the purposes of man have been defeated, but not the purposes of God.  He is a promise-keeping God, and every one of His people shall prove it to be so.

—Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892), quoted in Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., A Passion for God: Prayers and Meditations on the Book of Romans, 123