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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

HYMN
Words: Marcus Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-413);
trans. John Mason Neale, 1854 and Henry Williams Baker, 1861
Tune: Divinum mysterium

Of the Father's love begotten,
ere the worlds began to be,
he is Alpha and Omega,
he the source, the ending he,
of the things that are, that have been,
and that future years shall see,
evermore and evermore!

At his word the words were fram'd;
he commanded; it was done:
heaven and earth and depths of ocean
in their threefold order one;
all that grows beneath the shining
of the moon and burning sun,
evermore and evermore!

O that birth for ever bless d,
when the Virgin, full of grace,
by the Holy Ghost conceiving,
bare the Savior of our race;
and the Babe, the world's Redeemer,
first revealed his sacred face,
evermore and evermore!

This is he whom seers in old time
chanted of with one accord;
whom the voices of the prophets
promised in their faithful word;
now he shines, the long expected,
let creation praise its Lord,
evermore and evermore!

O ye heights of heaven, adore him;
angel-hosts, his praises sing;
powers, dominions, bow before him,
and extol our God and King;
let no tongue on earth be silent,
every voice in concert ring,
evermore and evermore!

Thee let old men, thee let young men,
thee let boys in chorus sing;
matrons, virgins, little maidens,
with glad voices answering:
let their guileless songs re-echo,
and the heart its music bring,
evermore and evermore!

Christ, to thee with God the Father,
and, O Holy Ghost, to thee,
hymn and chant and high thanksgiving,
and unwearied praises be;
honor, glory and dominion,
and eternal victory,
evermore and evermore!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Sacramental Nature of All Things

From Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail by Robert Webber:

 "A sacramental view of life is not much different from a supernatural view of life.  It affirms the mystery of the universe and allows that everything in life is, in one way or another, related to the mystery of the Creator and the Redeemer.  For example, I once saw a poster on which were written the words of a Catholic thinker, Teilhard de Chardin: 'Because of creation and even more because of incarnation there is nothing profane for those who know how to see.'  That's it, I said to myself, that phrase captures the broadest sense of sacrament.  Because God created this world and even more because he actually became his creation, creation itself- its material substance, its history, its events, and even my small history within the whole- is not profane or secular.  There is a religious underpinning to life, a purpose to everything, an end when all things will work out all right.  Therefore, everything in life points to the center, to Christ the Creator and Redeemer in whom all things, visible and invisible- find their meaning.  That's sacrament in its broadest sense.  As an evangelical, I already believed this.  I simply had not recognized that this was a sacramental view of life.  Now I had a name for it."

"I have found in the past that I too was a supernaturalist when it came to the inspiration of the Bible, the deity and resurrection of Jesus, and personal conversion.  The practical supernatural dimension of the Christian faith in the sacraments was rejected by me as superstition.  I no longer regard the sacraments as magical or pagan.  Rather, I have come to believe they are visible means through which the saving and healing action of God through Jesus Christ is communicated to his people.  The sacraments do not save us.  They are vehicles through which the salvation of the world accomplished by Christ is extended to us.  They bring Christ to us and touch us with his healing power....God communicates with us through visible and tangible means.  He came to us in an enfleshed form.  He was made man and lived among us.  Now he continues to act in our lives through those symbols we call sacraments.  I can only testify to the power of that experience as one that continually keeps me in Christ and the church."

Monday, December 06, 2010

Musings on the Sacrament of the Eucharist

From Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail by Robert Webber:

"I find the presence of Christ to be particularly true for me in the sacrament of the Eucharist.  When I used to think of it as my personal sign of faith, I always wondered, 'Did I take it in the right way? Did I properly prepare myself through the confession of my sins to make myself worthy of the bread and wine? Was my faith strong enough to be pleasing to God?  Will his wrath come against me because I wasn't serious enough?'  All these worries rolled away when I was set free by understanding that the bread and wine are God's symbols of his love toward me.  They now speak to me of the mystery of my salvation.  Rather than sending me into myself in search of this or that sin to confess, the Eucharist makes me aware that I never have been and never will be worthy.  But more than that, the Eucharist tells me that I am acceptable to God because of Jesus Christ.  He has done all that needs to be done to make me acceptable to the Father.  This is his sign to me of his work for me.  I receive this sign in faith and it effects a healing with God, my neighbor, nature, and me.  What Christ did for me on the cross is now extended to me.  I receive the benefits of his salvation again and again.  So the Eucharist has become the sacrament of my encounter with Jesus Christ.  He who saved me at the cross continues to extend his salvation to me through the simple and concrete signs of bread and wine."