Monday December 14, 2009

Advent ~ Week Three
Begotten In Love

Of the Father’s love begotten, ere the worlds began to be,
He is Alpha and Omega, He the source, the ending He,
Of the things that are, that have been,
And that future years shall see, evermore and evermore!

At His Word the worlds were framèd; He commanded; it was done:
Heaven and earth and depths of ocean in their threefold order one;
All that grows beneath the shining
Of the moon and burning sun, evermore and evermore!

He is found in human fashion, death and sorrow here to know,
That the race of Adam’s children doomed by law to endless woe,
May not henceforth die and perish
In the dreadful gulf below, evermore and evermore!

O that birth forever blessèd, when the virgin, full of grace,
By the Holy Ghost conceiving, bare the Savior of our race;
And the Babe, the world’s Redeemer,
First revealed His sacred face, evermore and evermore!

This is He Whom seers in old time chanted of with one accord;
Whom the voices of the prophets promised in their faithful word;
Now He shines, the long expected,
Let creation praise its Lord, evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven adore Him; angel hosts, His praises sing;
Powers, dominions, bow before Him, and extol our God and King!
Let no tongue on earth be silent,
Every voice in concert sing, evermore and evermore!

Righteous judge of souls departed, righteous King of them that live,
On the Father’s throne exalted none in might with Thee may strive;
Who at last in vengeance coming
Sinners from Thy face shalt drive, evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men, thee let boys in chorus sing;
Matrons, virgins, little maidens, with glad voices answering:
Let their guileless songs re-echo,
And the heart its music bring, evermore and evermore!

Christ, to Thee with God the Father, and, O Holy Ghost, to Thee,
Hymn and chant with high thanksgiving, and unwearied praises be:
Honor, glory, and dominion,
And eternal victory, evermore and evermore!


Luke 1:26-38

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”

And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the Child to be born will be called holy— the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.


Advent Expectancy

by Nancy Wilson

This morning at worship my husband taught us the difference between looking at Advent as a season of preparation as opposed to a season of penitence.  Some Christians view the Advent season as a time to “give up something” like they do for Lent. But if we give up facebook for Advent, and then tell all our friends about it, this is not a biblical fast. When we fast, or give up something, no one but God should know about it. (We should keep it to ourselves and not announce to everyone that we are giving up chocolate or coffee!) Jesus made fun of the Pharisees for letting everyone know when they were fasting (Matthew 6:16-18). “They have their reward.” Of course fasting can be spiritually healthy when done in a God-honoring way. Penitence means repentance, and that is something we should be eager to do all year long. Real repentance means rooting out real sin and bad habits.

We are sometimes tempted to feel guilty for things that God has not prohibited.  But this is diabolical and comes from the accuser, just like the White Witch in Narnia who, when she saw the animals feasting and opening gifts, demanded to know “Why all this waste?” In the Garden of Eden there was only one tree forbidden in the midst of many trees. But ever since Adam ate the fruit, we have been frozen in that moment, thinking all the trees were forbidden, and that God does not want His people having too much fun. But that is slandering our good God.

If we view Advent not as a season of penitence, but as a season of preparation, that is not because we are against repentance. We are getting ready, putting things in order, smoothing out the road (Isaiah 40:1-8).  Advent is much like the time we spend in the kitchen preparing a feast. It is a time of anticipation and excitement, standing on tiptoe waiting expectantly for the coming of the Messiah. The angels brought glad tidings, and we want to live in such a way that we can bring these same tidings of comfort and joy to the whole world. And that can’t be done with a long face.


Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;
True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,
And to the endless day!


John 1:1-16

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ( John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because He was before me.'”) And from His fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.


from Sketches of Home, by Suzanne Clark

pp 29-30

 As Christmas nears I am drawn to Mary: Mary holding her hands on her belly to feel the spasms made by her baby’s hiccups; Mary imagining the face of God. What paradox. What double awe. Not only was she struck with the wonder every mother feels in bearing a child, but she also marveled that the child was divine: earthly but unearthly; infantile, yet older than time and timeless. I picture the hardships she suffered, the difficulty of giving birth in a barn.

 

Joseph at My Side

You caught him

a watery weight

and laid him raw

against me.

 

My lips were parched,

you gave drink, your hands

still streaked and trembling.

 

You took the afterbirth away

then sheltered us

with your shoulders.

 

Our words were hushed,

like dove’s words:

     Joseph, you are strong like a mountain.

     Sleep now. Let me take my God-boy.

 

Did she know the terrible things her Son would suffer? Was her motherly joy mingled with dread?


As we continue getting closer to the Christmas season, traversing the days of Advent, rejoice with us in God’s great gift of Light and Life!! Hoping, expecting, longing, seeking, praying….. Never have these feelings been more heightened. Never has it been more appropriate. God is teaching, molding, training, growing. Praise Him!

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