Monday December 7, 2009

Week Two of Advent 2009
The Comfort of our God

Comfort, comfort ye My people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load;
speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.

For the herald’s voice is crying
in the desert far and near,
bidding all men to repentance,
since the Kingdom now is here.
O that warning cry obey!
Now prepare for God a way!
Let the valleys rise to meet Him,
and the hills bow down to greet Him.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
make the rougher places plain:
let your hearts be true and humble,
as befits His holy reign,
For the glory of the Lord
now o’er the earth is shed abroad,
and all flesh shall see the token
that His word is never broken.

Words: Johann G. Olearius, 1671;
trans. Catherine Winkworth, 1863

Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11

Comfort, comfort My people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
   and cry to her
that her warfare is ended,
   that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the LORD’s hand
   double for all her sins.

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
   and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
   and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
   and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Get you up to a high mountain,
   O Zion, herald of good news;
lift up your voice with strength,
   O Jerusalem, herald of good news;
   lift it up, fear not;
say to the cities of Judah,
   “Behold your God!”
Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might,
   and His arm rules for Him;
behold, His reward is with Him,
   and His recompense before Him.
He will tend His flock like a shepherd;
    He will gather the lambs in His arms;
He will carry them in His bosom,
   and gently lead those that are with young.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of Hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Day-Spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height,
In ancient times did’st give the Law,
In cloud, and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel.

Words: Ve­ni, ve­ni Eman­u­el
Trans: Neale

Luke 1:26-33

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.”

Two Kinds Of Black
an exhortation by my former pastor, Douglas Wilson

As we celebrate the coming of the Christ, we must never forget the kind of world He was born into. The blackness that the star of Bethlehem shone brightly from was a creational blackness, the kind of blackness that was visible on the first day of our world—when it was evening and it was morning, the first day, and it was all very good.

But the child Himself was the morning star, and the blackness that He shone brightly from was a Herodian blackness, a moral darkness, an ethical night of pitch black sin. The slaughter of the innocents is an integral part of the Christmas story, and not some unfortunate event that happened around the same time. It was the kind of thing that illustrated the reason why Christ had to come in the first place. But strikingly, I don’t think it is possible to buy a nativity set that has any of Herod’s soldiers in it. We don’t want to tell ourselves the whole story, whether past or present.

Then, as now, the choice was stark. Either we will receive Christ to rule over us, and we will welcome Him gladly, or we will turn our backs on Him, and welcome the ways of coercion and blood. Ultimately, there will be blood one way or the other, and so the choice will be between the blood of the willing sacrifice, or countless unwilling sacrifices. It is either Christ on the cross, and the salvation of the world, or it will be all the possible permutations of Molech worship, and the maw of death that is never satisfied. It will either be the death that arrived when Christ cried out, “It is finished,” or it will be the way of death that is never finished and never satisfied.

And so, celebrate this Advent with gospel satisfaction. Rest in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, that was a once for all completion. Tell the story of the turmoil and unrest in the world that Christ came into, and teach your children how that unrest cannot be given rest apart from receiving the yoke of Jesus Christ.

In that manger we see the warrior who was born to slay the dragon, and we see that the dragon instinctively knew the nature of the threat and tried to do what dragons always do. The dragon raged all through the streets of Bethlehem because his time was short. We sing in the streets of Bethlehem because the dragon has been slain, and we say of the one who did this great thing that of the increase of His government there will be no end.

Click here to see three short videos (that made me get all teary – but then, what doesn’t do that these days?!) of why I sometimes miss my old church like crazy. And why I am praying for reformation and revival so that I may raise my sweet Gabriel (and any other children who may someday fill our home) in surroundings of beauty, goodness, and truth.

Isaiah 42:1-12

Behold My Servant, whom I uphold,
   My chosen, in whom My soul delights;
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
    He will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up His voice,
   or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed He will not break,
   and a faintly burning wick He will not quench;
    He will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
   till He has established justice in the earth;
   and the coastlands wait for His law.

Thus says God, the LORD,
   who created the heavens and stretched them out,
   who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
   and spirit to those who walk in it:
“I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness;
   I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
    a light for the nations,

to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
    from the prison those who sit in darkness.
I am the LORD; that is My Name;
    My glory I give to no other,
   nor My praise to carved idols.
Behold, the former things have come to pass,
    and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
   I tell you of them.”

Sing to the LORD a new song,
   His praise from the end of the earth,
you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it,
    the coastlands and their inhabitants.
Let the desert and its cities lift up their voice,
   the villages that Kedar inhabits;
let the habitants of Sela sing for joy,
   let them shout from the top of the mountains.
Let them give glory to the LORD,
   and declare His praise in the coastlands.

Today I am choosing to hope.
I am choosing to long not only for God to fulfill the desires He has placed in our hearts, but also to long for Him to fully fill my heart with Himself. It is hard to make these choices. In a lot of ways, it is easier to sit in a corner, pull out my hair, and wail in despair.
But not today.
Today I am choosing to be thankful that God sent His Son to earth.
For me.
For my covenant children.
So that I am able to spend an eternity in Paradise with my children.
As a complete family.
Worshiping Him forever in holiness.
So I praise Him for this Advent season.

I feel like I am living in a strange dichotomy, walking a fine line between praise and grief.
I am praying that God will keep me on the straight and narrow, so that I do not fall to one side of that fine line or the other.

Oh Jesus, send Your Spirit.

2 Replies to “Monday December 7, 2009”

  1. *hugs*

    Keep hoping!

    I understand your tears for missing your old church. It’s still been over 4 years since we left the church we attended. I still miss it in some ways. I, too pray for revival and reformation each day!


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