I’m so happy to celebrate the Incarnation! Continue reading
Since we cannot be there to give you a gift in person, hopefully you’ll receive these dance routines we worked up. Click the picture to watch the short video. (offsite)
One of my favorite songs for Christmas time: Tchesnokoff “Salvation is Created”
It wouldn’t be complete without Calvin & Hobbes snowmen
by John Donne Continue reading
December 18, 2011
Have you noticed how fast the days are going? When the holidays approach, the days fly by. More presents to buy, cookies to bake, decorations to be hung… in all the hustle and bustle, there is not enough time in the day – the day of Christmas is coming!
All this work for one day. The ancient prophets spoke of a Day, a Day that would bring rest instead of weariness, a Day of peace amidst war and strife, and a Day of beauty and glory far away from our gray and dreary days on earth. But when will this day come? And what does Christmas have to do with this Day?
On This Day, Earth Shall Ring
What wonderful sounds: “gloria in excelsis Deo!” Glory to God in the highest! Surely there are few things sweeter to hear.
Can you imagine keeping watch with the shepherds as they watched their flocks by night? Can you contain your awe and excitement, as the air around them begins to tremble with a heavenly power. But wait a minute! Do you hear that? What is that sound? It sounds like the most beautiful voices ever assembled, a swirling of the melodies and harmonies of glory. Behold! A light in darkened night sky! Let joy fill our hearts!
All My Heart This Night Rejoices Continue reading
“For unto you is born this day…” Salvation is created. The majesty and mystery of the Messiah come as our Emmanuel is a time for rejoicing and worship. Use the following for your own edification as you reflect on the Incarnation.
The purpose of this liturgy is to direct the people of God as they are served by their Covenant God who condescends to our weakness in the Incarnation, and who visits us with perfect justice in the Final Judgment. These two advents frame the experience of New Covenant believers: we look back to Christ’s first coming… Continue reading Advent Liturgy →
Dear Zion, You’ve probably noticed that we have begun a special season at church called “Advent.” This word comes from the Latin, adventus, which means “coming,” but both of these words help us understand the biblical word parousia, a word we see in I Thessalonians 3:13, “the coming of our Lord Jesus.” Advent is an opportunity… Continue reading “Celebraing Advent” →
Honoring One Day Over Another… to the Lord
Resources for Preaching from Galatians
For the weeks leading up to December 25 (
what the un-RPW world calls otherwise known as “Christmas” & “Advent”), we’re taking a 30,000 ft aerial flyover of the book of Galatians. Thinking especially that God sent His Son “in the fullness of time,” we’ll be using Galatians as a foil for considering Christ – and His benefits – that have come to us… Continue reading “Resources for Preaching from Galatians” →
Zion Cantata 2011
This gallery contains 6 photos.
For those of you who are into cantatas, Zion Ev. & Reformed Church recently presented their 51st annual cantata, “Sounds of Christmas.” Perhaps the following may be of interest for any looking for structuring their own cantata presentation.
It seems like the Christmas season gets busier every year! More presents to buy, cookies to bake, decorations to be hung… in all the hustle and bustle, there is no time to wait – Christmas is coming! Where did the time go?! When we were children, Christmas couldn’t come fast enough; we couldn’t wait for it! So what has changed? What are we waiting for now?
We are all waiting… some are waiting for Christmas, some are waiting for their families to be healed; others are waiting for their health to be restored. We are all waiting for that angelic promise so long ago: “peace on earth, good will toward men.” But how long must we wait? And Who are we waiting for?
When Emmanuel Has Come
Emmanuel has come, and we will never be the same. So how did this King come to earth? When Heaven was opened, what glorious procession did Emmanuel take to display His regal majesty? All the heavenly host of God’s angels held their breath as they awaited the sudden appearance of the King of Glory.
But what’s this? Where are the heavenly trumpets, sounding forth their royal fanfare? Where are the angelic voices shouting as a roar of the ocean, that the King is coming? It is a silent night, with only the blue-white of stars twinkling over a quiet village in Israel. Here there is no shining palace, no golden throne; only a solitary man and pregnant wife who are plodding their way to a small dusty inn and cramped stable.
A Simple Stable
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord… you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”
O, Tiny Babe of Bethlehem
And so, the Babe was born. In the quiet of that holy night, salvation was created. And all was still on earth.
High above that lowly manger, the heavens were not quiet. Though the earth lay wrapped in silence, all of Heaven was exploding for joy in the birth of the King. The heavens were telling the glory of God, and galaxies were spinning in their celestial orbits to the praise of the newborn King. Comets and meteors, stars and nebulae reverberated with angelic praise. But one star, one special, little star, was given an extraordinary assignment. As the starry hosts gave glory to God, this little star cast its heavenly light on little Bethlehem, the holy manger awash in its glow. Like a beacon of grace, this little star shone out in the darkness, proclaiming the Light of the World!
How Quietly, How Quietly
Narrator (Choir of Children reciting in unison)
Within a crib my Savior lay / a wooden manger filled with hay /
Come down for love on Christmas Day
Now Holy Babe rest in Your bed / But on the Cross His blood He’ll shed /
O Jesus, Jesus, rest your head
Jesus, Jesus, Rest Your Head
As shepherds watched their flocks by night, suddenly the glory of the Lord shone about them, and the heavenly host appeared to them, saying “Glory to God in the highest! The Savior is born in Bethlehem!”
Can it be true? Is this midnight vision to be believed? Is the King whom we have all been waiting for been born this silent night? Come, let us see Jesus! Come with the Magi – those kings of the East – see their royal array in a majestic procession. Come with the shepherds – fresh from the fields – still smelling of sheep and the goats and the grass – with the radiance of the heavenly host flickering on their faces. Come with the angels, and give glory to God – Hallelujah!
Hurry, Hurry to Bethlehem
“Let us, like these good shepherds, then employ
Our grateful voices to proclaim the joy
Look now! the Babe, who has retrieved our loss
From His poor manger to His bitter cross
Trusting His pow’r, assisted by His grace
Till man’s restored to His glorious place.
Then may we hope, the angelic thrones among
To sing, redeemed, a glad triumphal song
He that was born upon this joyful day
Around us all His glory shall display
Saved by His grace, incessant we shall sing
Eternal praise to Christ, almighty King.”
A Christmas Proclamation
Christmas is here! And the Christ child is born! Salvation is created! Sin, death and darkness are conquered- so joy the world! And glory to God in the highest. May you and your loved ones have a happy – and holy – Christmas!
A Carol Festival
You’ve probably noticed that we have begun a special season at church called “Advent.” This word comes from the Latin, adventus, which means “coming,” but both of these words help us understand the biblical word parousia, a word we see in I Thessalonians 3:13, “the coming of our Lord Jesus.” Advent is an opportunity to remember that Christ came into the world “for us and for our salvation.” How can we as Christians benefit from the season of Advent? What can we do to remember “the reason for the Season?” How should we “keep Christ in Christmas?” Let me offer some suggestions.
First, we should meditate on Christ’s first coming. Jesus didn’t come into this world unbidden and for no reason. Rather, Jesus was “sent by the Father” (John 5:36-37). Even being born as a babe in the Bethlehem manger was an act of obedience by the Son to God the Father. Jesus’ obedience is imputed to us by faith (I Corinthians 1:30), so that we may also be obedient to our heavenly Father. But why did the Father send Jesus? Jesus was sent to destroy Satan (I John 3:8), to save us from our sins (I Timothy 1:15), to bring life and light into the darkness (John 1:4-5, 9), for the glory of God (John 7:18), and to serve us and give His life as a ransom for His people (Mark 10:45). Meditating on Jesus’ first Advent should drive us to be Christ-lovers who desire to lay down our lives to serve our neighbors so that we could obey and glorify God!
Secondly, we should look in hope for Christ’s second coming. Though we normally think of Advent with regard to Christmas and Jesus’ birth, the word parousia usually refers to Jesus’ second coming (I Thessalonians 2:19; James 5:8)! Like Abraham, Moses, David, and the saints of the Old Testament, we are waiting for the appearance of the Messiah, even Jesus Christ (I Peter 1:10-14). However, unlike those Old Testament saints who died before Christ came the first time, we “rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory” because we already know Christ by faith in Holy Scripture (I Peter 1:8). Because we too are waiting for Jesus’ Advent for the second time, we are to live with patience, faith, meekness and righteousness, shining like stars in a dark world. As we celebrate this Advent season, we should remind our neighbors that Jesus has come as a Suffering Servant, and He will come as our Judge and King. This should make us confident in our faith and humble before others.
Many people will give you other laundry lists to “keep Christ in Christmas.” They’ll tell you to never sign your Christmas cards with “Xmas” or “Happy Holidays,” to boycott certain stores, to put a certain Nativity scene in your yard, to only promote certain non-profit ministries, etc., etc., ad infinitum ad nauseum. But what if I sign all my Christmas cards just so, avoid the “wrong” stores in favor of the “right” ministries, and decorate my house with just the right number of Christmas-light-angels, but don’t have Christ’s love in my heart? Have I really “remembered the reason for the Season?”
This Christmas and Advent season, may we be a people who seek the Lord through prayer, looking to Him to create within us the joy of Jesus’ first coming and the hope of Christ’s second coming. Let’s “keep Christ in Christmas” by avoiding commercialism and consumerism, but also by trusting in God’s grace to work powerfully within us to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
Trusting with you in the Christ of the First and Second Advents,