O Come, O Come, Emmanuel! (6)

Without the holy night, there is no theology. “God is revealed in flesh,” the God-human Jesus Christ—that is the holy mystery that theology came into being to protect and preserve. How we fail to understand when we think that the task of theology is to solve the mystery of God, to drag it down to the flat, ordinary wisdom of human experience and reason! Its sole office is to preserve the miracle as miracle, to comprehend, defend, and glorify God’s mystery precisely as mystery. This and nothing else, therefore, is what the early church meant when, with never flagging zeal, it dealt with the mystery of the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ.

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

Mystery and Wonder

Here lies the mystery, the wonder, the glory of the Gospel, that He who is God, the Creator of all things, and worthy of the worship and praises of all creation, should become man and as a man worship God, and as a man lead us in our worship of God, that we might become the sons of God we are meant to be.

—James B. Torrance, “The Place of Jesus Christ in Worship,” in Theological Foundations for Ministry, 351

Revelation and Response (17)

Worship as response to revelation in the canticles of the Christmas story in Luke 1–2:

REVELATION: Annunciation to Mary & visit to Elizabeth (1:26-45)

RESPONSE: Mary’s Magnificat (1:46-55)

REVELATION: Annunciation to Zacharias & birth of John the Baptist (1:5-25,57-66)

RESPONSE: Zacharias’ Benedictus (1:67-79)

REVELATION: Angel’s announcement of Christ’s birth (2:8-13)

RESPONSE: The Angels’ Gloria (2:14)

REVELATION: Promise and fulfillment to Simeon (2:35-37)

RESPONSE: Simeon’s Nunc dimittis (2:29-32)  (“my eyes have seen”) RESP.

—Walt Barrett

Emmanuel! (30)

Jesus whom we worship was born into a specific culture of the world. In the mystery of the incarnation are the model and the mandate for the contextualization of Christian worship. God can be and is encountered in the local cultures of our world. A given culture’s values and patterns, insofar as they are consonant with the values of the Gospel, can be used to express the meaning and purpose of Christian worship. Contextualization is a necessary task for the Church’s mission in the world, so that the Gospel can be ever more deeply rooted in diverse local cultures.

—Constance Cherry, The Worship Architect, A Blueprint for Designing Culturally Relevant and Biblically Faithful Services, 293

Emmanuel! (29)

Though in our sin we are rebels deserving only the censure and judgment of God, in our human state apart from sin, that human experience into which Jesus entered, we are the glory of the entire creation. We are made like Him, as like Him as any creature could be made; and we are made for Him, for fellowship with Him to all eternity. The real marvel of incarnation is not that God should become man, but that He should do so for us men and for our salvation. At the end of the day, it is not chiefly a marvel of the mind, but a marvel of the heart.

—Nigel M. de S. Cameron, Complete in Christ, 28