This Hymn always causes me to stop, ponder and realize that the joy of Christmas brings the sacrifice of the cross. Just reading the verses says it all, proclaiming the fullness his purpose. As you read the first four verses, there is a heaviness as you realize he came as a sacrifice.
We Three Kings of Orient are bearing gifts, we traverse so far
Gold to crown him a King-Over us to reign
Frankincense to declare his deity as our God-Worship him, God on high
Myrrh, a bitter perfume to anoint him for burial-Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying
The verse ends with the words “Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying, sealed in a stone cold-tomb.”
Several years ago I wrote a blog called “Sunday’s comin!” The first four verses of this Carol feel like Friday night- sealed in a stone cold-tomb.
But the carol doesn’t end here. NO! there is more. Oh! the joy of singing the last verse. Sunday’s coming!
Glorious now behold him arise!
King, and God and Sacrifice!
Earth to heaven replies.
Yes! Hallelujah to the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Passover lamb, the Risen Savior and Prince of Peace
This Christmas be like the wise men of old. Seek him, worship him and proclaim his Glory!
As I sat at the piano, playing and singing some Christmas carols, another song came to my heart. This is traditionally a song sung for times of communion, the Lord’s Supper, in a corporate gathering. Brother Bob Stamps, then chaplain of ORU with assistance from David Stearman, composed this song back in the ‘70’s during our time at ORU. Gazing at the nativity figures on my piano I had never considered this as a Christmas song, yet it totally expressed the meaning of the birth of Jesus. His birth opened the door for everyone to come: shepherds, kings, wise men and women. My brother-in-law used to say “The ground is level at the foot of the cross with a sign that says ‘whosoever will may come.”
GOD AND MAN AT TABLE
by Dr. Robert J.(Brother Bob) Stamps
O, welcome, all ye noble saints of old As now before your very eyes unfold The wonders all so long ago foretold. God and Man at table are sat down
Elders, martyrs, all are falling down; Prophets, patriarchs are gath’ring round. What angels longed to see now man has found: God and man at table are sat down.
Who is this who spreads the vic’try feast? Who is this who makes our warring cease? Jesus, Risen Savior, Prince of Peace. God and man at table are sat down.
Beggars, lame, and harlots also here; Repentant publicans are drawing near. Wayward sons come home without a fear. God and man at table are sat down.
Worship in the presence of the Lord With joyful songs and hearts in one accord. And let our Host at table be adored. God and man at table are sat down.
When at last this earth shall pass away, When Jesus and his Bride are one to stay, The feast of love is just begun that day. God and man at table are sat down.
Take a moment this Christmas.
Stop and Breathe. Share Communion.
After all, isn’t that what Christmas is really about?
It’s Christmas and my cups are out! Can’t help but smile when you sip hot coffee from a cheerful Christmas mug. This year as part of my own devotion I plan to read a Christmas carol each day. The words are so rich, and I don’t want to miss the message behind the words. Often they were composed with a specific purpose, other times written from a moving experience of the heart, but they always tell the story of salvation in the language of music. Who doesn’t get teary eyes watching little boys in bath robes and sweet little girls with crooked halos singing “Away in a Manger.”
Today the song on my heart is Silent Night. Most of us know the story of the broken organ in a small Austrian village. Joseph Mohr, the priest, had just watched a troupe of traveling actors present the nativity play and his heart was deeply moved. Rather than going home he walked in hushed silence to a hill overlooking the little village. His heart swelled as he reflected on the birth of the Messiah in the stillness of the snowy evening. “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright.” Could he visualize the events that quietly took place so long ago in another small villiage in Israel? In Bethlehem? “Round yon virgin, mother and child. Holy infant so tender and mild.”
Suddenly that tranquil night was filled with light and angels! “Shepherds quake at the sight!”
The next day he shared this moment and poem with his friend and fellow priest, Franz Gruber. Franz composed a simple melody on the guitar and Silent Night was sung in the tiny little villiage of Oberndorf, Austria, at midnight on Christmas Eve.
By Joseph Mohr & Franz Gruber
Silent night, holy night, All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and child. Holy infant, so tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peace, Sleep in heavenly peace.
Silent night, holy night, Shepherds quake at the sight;
Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia!
Christ the Savior is born, Christ the Savior is born!
Silent night, holy night, Son of God, love’s pure light;
Radiant beams from thy holy face With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
Silent night, holy night, Wondrous Star lend thy light;
With the Angels let us sing Alleluia to our King.
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth, Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.
The first verse ends with “sleep in heavenly peace.” I hope today you will sing all of the verses to this beautiful carol and may you also sleep in heavenly peace, because he came.
Recently a friend was going through a difficult time in her family life. As we spoke she made the statement, “I need the community of believers right now. I need to worship with others. I have prayed, read and listened on line to worship, but I just need to experience Jesus with skin on.”
A few days later I learned that some women from her prayer group had kidnapped her and taken her out to dinner. They laughed, talked and cried together. They prayed for her and simply loved her. When we spoke again she sounded very different. She had been with believers, not in a church service, but in a restaurant where they laughed, talked and cried together. They prayed for each other and my friend was restored in her spirit. Her situation had not changed, but her total outlook had been refreshed and she had the courage and strength to go on.
I was reminded that years ago I made bread. I had put in the yeast, the flour, honey and oil. I had kneaded it and it rose and became five beautiful loaves of bread. The aroma filled the house and I sliced a piece right away. I watched as the butter melted and mixed with the honey on this delicious looking, amazing fresh hot bread, straight from the oven.
WELL YUK!!! What was wrong with this bread?!
I had forgotten to add the salt. I had baked five beautiful loaves of bread. And I threw away five beautiful loaves of bread.
Jesus told us we were to be the salt of the earth. My friend had all the ingredients to walk through this pain. She had the Word. She had the Spirit. She had Prayer. But sometimes we all just need a little salt to complete the recipe. We need the salt to make the bread of adversity palatable. We need the salt to help us share the load so we can grasp hold of the hand of the Lord and just keep walking forward.
We all need a little salt sometimes. And at other times, we need to BE the salt. The Lord told us to bear each others burdens. The Book of Proverbs tells us that when one falls the other can lift him up. Building community with other believers in so important in our lives. God created community in the garden. Jesus walked in community with his disciples. We were created for community. We need each other.
Today has been one of those days where everything seemed a little hopeless, a little dark. Outside my window I could see that winter still had it’s grip on the earth. No leaves on the trees, no flowers blooming, neither snow nor ice on the ground either. Just another day of nothing in particular.
Ever had those days? “What are you expecting today?” “Oh, nothing in particular.” And that is what you get: Nothing in particular.
I did the usual things to wake my spirit up to His goodness and love, but….by afternoon I was still not feeling it. No spark of joy when I read my devotion; no revelation as I read the Word. So I just did the usual things you do. I was tired, and wanted to take a nap.
Finally, I walked out into my yard. It was a delightful day outside and I decided to go for a long over due walk around my neighborhood. Rather than call one of my children and talk as I walked, I listened to music. One of my fav is Gungor’s “The Earth is Yours.”
The upbeat sounds began to sink in my soul and my step picked up a little bit. I found myself smiling and singing along. Then I began to see. The sun was going down and the beautiful pinks and purples and oranges were filling the skies through the stark branches of the trees. The yellow bells were beginning to pop out of bare stems that just last week had no life at all. Sort of like from my lifeless heart a little flicker of unexpected joy began to rise. Not so much, mind you, but a tiny spark slipped out!
One neighbor had put in some new landscaping that looked so nice and manicured. I liked that. New neighbors? When did they move in with their cute little purple playhouse and the trampoline in the back? I watched as the youngster did a flip and throw her hands up in victory. I shared her imagined moment of triumph as she received a ‘10’ for the Olympic gold! Was that a surge of joy I felt? Oh Yeah! Now I’m feeling it!
Suddenly I began to see the signs everywhere: The tender little lily pushing up the hard soil; The green buds getting ready to burst open on the Japanese magnolia and the buttercups. The hope that comes as signs of spring begin to emerge from the dormancy of winter was slowly awakening from the hidden places in my soul.
It was then that the Holy Spirit whispered quietly, “It seems like Friday night, But Sunday’s comin!” The Friday night after the Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross seemed very dreary, hopeless and dark. Jesus’ followers went into hiding as fear rose in their hearts. The one they had looked to for deliverance was now dead and buried in the grave. Oh yes, my friend, that was a dark Friday night. They just didn’t know that Sunday was coming!
I didn’t get the winter snow that I love so much. There are still no leaves on the trees, the days are short and my flip flops are tucked away in the deep recesses of my closet. My day started off a little dark and dreary too. But just as these little signs speak of the hope of spring, my heart shouts “It may feel like Friday night, But Sunday’s Comin!”
His world is a beautiful place full of hope, joy and beauty, even in the winter. And even in the winter season of your life. But don’t despair,
Vs. 1 “Release your heart’s joy in sweet music to the Eternal… When the upright passionately sing glory-filled songs to him, everything is in its right place.”
I love to come into my house after my friend Fran cleans it. Everything smells so good and looks so nice. My heart is happy and I am at peace. I’m not looking around thinking, “I need to do this or that.” I simply enjoy the clean house where everything is in its place.
Psalms 33 is saying the same about our spirit, soul and body. When we sing glorious praise to him it cleanses our heart and brings our spirit into worship. All is in it’s right place.
“Write awe-filled songs to Him…Sing and play them the best you can! Don’t be afraid to be bold with your joyful feelings!”
God created us with emotion, and he longs for us to use those emotions as a release toward him in worship and praise. In other words as the song says, “Let it go!”
As I continue to read this Psalm I feel the emotion of awe rising in me and it propels me toward expressive worship.
That means simply allowing the tears to flow, laughing out loud or releasing a big ‘whoop!’
Vs. 6. “The unfathomable cosmos came into being at the word of the Eternal’s imagination, a solitary voice in endless darkness.” Whoa!
“The breath of His mouth whispered the sea of stars into existence.”
Do you sense the magnitude of those words. As I meditate on the greatness of our magnificent Creator, I stand in open-mouthed, reverential silence. “He whispered the stars in place.” Close your eyes and imagine watching that moment in time. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg can’t even come close.
Vs 7. “He gathers every drop of every ocean as in a jar.”
Have you stood by an ocean lately? The breakers crashing down; water as far as the eye can see. Yet, he holds it all as if in a jar. Too big for me to even think or imagine.
Vs. 9.“He spoke and all creation obeyed and stood its ground.”
All of creation stood at attention! The trees were still; the birds ceased flying; lions and polar bears paused and looked up. Even the fish and whale stopped. Everything came to a standstill in wonder and amazement.
We need to stop and stand at attention for a moment. Breathe in His majesty and glory. Stand in awe for one moment and allow your spirit to soar with the stars or gaze in obedient wonder and amazement at the King of the universe; in honor and admiration of the Sovereign Majesty Himself.
He cripples the schemes of Nations.
He impedes the plans of people.
His purposes will last.
He will stir the generations.
“Listen, the eye of the Eternal is upon those who live in awe of Him, those who hope in His steadfast love, that He may save them from the darkness of the grave and be kept alive during the lean seasons.”
“Our hearts erupt with joy in Him because we trust in His Holy Name. O Eternal, drench us with your endless love, even now as we wait for you!”