God and Sinners Reconciled
I have our church sing these extra verses at least one Sunday in Advent. The scriptural allusions show us that God's plan of redemption first promised to Eve in Genesis is fulfilled in the work of the second Adam (Jesus).
Glory to the newborn King!
What is worship?
Worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible.
To worship God ‘in spirit and in truth’ is first and foremost a way of saying that we must worship God by means of Christ. In him the reality has dawned and the shadows are being swept away (Hebrews 8:13). Christian worship is new covenant worship; it is gospel-inspired worship;
it is Christ-centered worship; it is cross-focused worship.
-D. A. Carson
Worship is what we were created for. This is the final end of all existence-the worship of God. God created the universe so that it would display the worth of His glory. And He created us so that we would see this glory and reflect it by knowing and loving it-with all our heart and soul and mind and strength.
Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does.
…acknowledging that someone or something else is greater – worth more – and by consequence, to be obeyed, feared, and adored… Worship is the sign that in giving myself completely to someone or something, I want to be mastered by it.
Worship is the submission of all our nature to God.
It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of mind with His truth;
the purifying of imagination by His Beauty; the opening of the heart to His love;
the surrender of will to His purpose – and all of this gathered up in adoration,
the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin.
Worship is the continuous outpouring of all that I am,
all that I do and all that I can ever become
in light of a chosen or choosing god.
When looking at the Christmas narrative, the supernatural events surrounding Jesus’ birth dominate our focus. As we read the beginning of the gospels of Matthew and Luke, it is very easy to freeze Joseph, Mary, the Shepherds, the Magi, and Herod into two-dimensional characters witnessing angelic messages and spirit-filled dreams. It is helpful to remember that they were flesh and blood people and that most of their life details are not recorded in Scripture. How do they deal with God’s unfolding plan for their lives?
Mary and Joseph were betrothed. They were anticipating a married life together and the hopeful blessings of a future family when God intervened. Mary will bear the Son of God and Joseph will raise the child as his own. The shepherds were living and working in the fields. Considered ceremonially unclean because of their work, they had come to terms with their limited and low status in society when God intervened. The angelic proclamation of the birth of Jesus is given to these men and they are brought near to the Son of God in worship. Three astrologers in the East are looking for the sign of the Messiah, and then one ordinary day, they find that God has arrived. The Magi immediately travel to Bethlehem and see the young Jesus and offer worship and extravagant gifts because they recognize God has entered time and space.
The question before us is not whether God will intervene in our lives, but rather how we respond when He does. Life just doesn’t turn out as we would plan, but that is very often when God reveals His presence. Relationships are broken; cancer ravages a loved one; good friends move far away; children and parents lock in conflict. When God interrupts our lives, do we react by wrestling in faith with his providence, seeking his love and trusting his fatherly care? As Mary and Joseph, the Shepherds, and the Magi learned, no life works out as expected, but the Lord is at work.
This Christmas, take the hopes and fears of all your years to God.
He will meet you.
Anthony is the Director of Worship and Communications at Arden Presbyterian Church in NC.
Recommended Music for Worship
Keith & Kristyn Getty
The Worship Pastor
With One Voice
Look and Live
Rhythms of Grace
The Worship Architect
The Stories We Tell
Christ Centered Worship