Christian life is fasting in order to feast

We can only feast in faithfulness and joy if we are trained by fasting of all kinds.  More generally, we can only appreciate and use God’s gifts rightly if we do so by waiting for the right time and submitting to his methods of training.  Read here to find out how Lenten disciplines of fasting can help train us in this fasting-in-order-to-feast dynamic of the whole Christian life.

The Season of Epiphany

On January 6, the church enters a new season of the liturgical calendar.  The colors at the front of the church change from white to green to signify the season of Epiphany.

When we say, “I’ve had an epiphany!” we mean that suddenly we see something profound that changes everything.  Something is shown or revealed to us that we were missing.  During the season of Epiphany, the church has traditionally focused upon events in Jesus’ life that show us his identity as our Savior and Lord.  According to the most ancient traditions, Epiphany begins with reflections on the visit of the Magi (Matthew 2:1-12), which shows his royalty and mission to all nations, the baptism of Jesus (Matthew 3:13-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34), which shows him to be the beloved Son of God and promised Redeemer King, and the marriage feast at Cana (John 2:1-12), which shows his power to bring the promised age of purification by his blood and new abundance in God’s renewed creation.

The Epiphany theme of seeing/showing means two things for us.  First, we have the chance to see Jesus for who he is.  He is our protecting and defending King, the Savior for all peoples, the beloved Son of God who makes us beloved children of God, the Spirit-anointed Christ who also gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit, the host of the great banquet to which we are invited, and.  All we long for and all we strive for is found in him if we will have eyes to see.

Second, we have the calling to show Jesus to others.  In fact, it is in seeing Jesus for who he is that we become able to show Jesus to others. When we see we are saved by his grace and not our own righteousness, we are able show him through lives of humility rather than pride.  When we see all he has done to meet our needs, we are able to show him by caring for others’ needs.  When we see how he has welcomed us in, we are able to show him through our hospitality.  When we see how we have been forgiven, we are able to show him by forgiving.  When we see how richly Jesus has loved us, then we will be able to show Jesus by loving others.

Reformation Day

This coming Sunday, October 26, is Reformation Day.  What was the Reformation?  On October 31st, 1517, the German monk and professor Martin Luther posted a list of 95 theses that sought to reform the beliefs and practices of the medieval Catholic Church according to the teachings of the Bible.  Luther’s ideas for reforming the church encouraged Christians all over Europe to seek major revival and purification of the church from traditions that distorted and corrupted the faith and pattern of life passed on to the church by Jesus through his apostles.  Reformation Day is a holiday celebrated on October 31st or the last weekend in October in remembrance of the Protestant Reformation.

Continue reading

Behold Our God

The new song for Easter season in the 11:15 worship service is “Behold Our God.”  The sermons during this season will focus on the beauty and supremacy of the risen and reigning Lord Jesus Christ as revealed to us in the Book of Revelation.  This song draws our gaze to the risen Lord Jesus so that we might behold him together with awe and delight as we sing.

Continue reading

See, the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph

During the season of Easter, we will learn this classic hymn about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and his consequent enthronement as king who reigns from heaven over all:

See the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph
Music (melody) | Music (SATB) | Audio (tune only)
Text: Christopher Wordsworth 1862
Tune: Henry Smart 1868
REX GLORIAE

1.  See, the Conqu’ror mounts in triumph.
See the King in royal state,
riding on the clouds, his chariot,
to his heav’nly palace gate.
Hark! the choirs of angel voices
joyful alleluias sing,
and the gates on high are opened
to receive their heav’nly King.

2.  Who is this that comes in glory,
with the trump of jubilee?
Lord of battles, God of armies,
he has gained the victory.
He who on the cross did suffer,
he who from the grave arose,
he has vanquished sin and Satan.
He by death has spoiled his foes.

3.  Now our heav’nly Aaron enters
with his blood within the veil.
Joshua now has come to Canaan,
though the kings against him rail.
Now he plants the tribes of Israel
in their promised resting place.
Now our great Elijah offers
double portion of his grace.

4.  You have raised our human nature
in the clouds to God’s right hand.
There we sit in heav’nly places;
there with you in glory stand.
Jesus reigns, adored by angels,
man with God is on the throne.
Mighty Lord, in your ascension,
we by faith behold our own.

This hymn not only expresses joy at Jesus’ resurrection but also shows its cosmic and historical significance.  Continue reading

Come, O Redeemer, Come

During the remaining services in the season of Lent, we will learn a new song to confess our sin and need for the Lord’s mercy:

Come, O Redeemer, Come  (Audio)
Text and tune: Fernando Ortega, 1996; © 1996, Metro One, Inc.

1.  Father, enthroned on high—“Holy, holy!”
Ancient eternal Light—hear our prayer.

REFRAIN
Come, O Redeemer, come; grant us mercy.
Come, O Redeemer, come; grant us peace.

2.  Lord, save us from the dark of our striving,
faithless, troubled hearts weighed down.   REFRAIN

3.  Look now upon our need; Lord, be with us.
Heal us and make us free from our sin.   REFRAIN

The austerity of this song by contemporary Christian songwriter Fernando Ortega forms in us a posture of heart appropriate to the suffering of Jesus that we emphasize during the Lenten season.  As we ponder and pray in light of the cross of Christ, may the Lord make this song our humble and yet hopeful lament and plea for the Lord’s mercy that not only forgives but also heals and liberates us and the whole broken world longing for its Redeemer.

Lenten Devotional

Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City is offering free devotional materials for individuals, families, and/or small groups to use during the season of Lent (February 13-March 30, 2013).  The devotionals are emailed directly to you each Sunday in Lent.  If you are interested, you can register here. (You will first have to hit the “Find Profile” button to complete the registration process).