It is the second Sunday of Advent and thus our focus word is Peace. Jesus is the Prince of Peace for he is the manifestation of the kingdom of God. Jesus is our hope. Jesus is our life. Jesus is our salvation. Feeling peaceful? That is an understatement 🙂
Oh God, there is no question in our hearts or minds that it is right and salutary to give You and You alone praise and worship at all times and in all places. It is right because Your kingdom has happened. It has happened through the birth of Jesus Christ and was solidified through the cross and empty tomb. You destroyed hopelessness. You calmed the chaos. You crushed the head of the deceiver. You banished the darkness. You have bound the forces of evil. Though we are sinners, You are faithful. Though we are weak, You are strong. Though we wander like sheep, You retrieve us for You are the Good Shepherd. Holy Father, we are so joyful because of the Prince of Peace and for this reason we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.
Merry Advent everyone! That’s right, Advent is here but better yet, Jesus is coming. No, not some earthly birthday party where presents are exchanged in celebration, but rather our King is coming – here – soon – to bring his Church home.
That’s the joy in my heart.
That’s the excitement in my soul.
That’s the longing of my heart – my hope.
So join me in worship as we sing praises to God our Father through Christ Jesus the Lord.
Father in heaven, it is fitting and natural to sing Your praises at all times and in all places as joy overflows from our hearts. You sent Jesus to be born in our likeness – to take on our frail form and then to suffer and die, only to shatter the fetters of death that we may be free. And now we anxiously await Jesus – this time to gather his church for an all-out banquet feast as we engage in uninhibited worship of You, oh God, with all the saints. And so, we prepare our hearts to receive our King as we join with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing our joy-filled refrains of praise to You.
Another benediction that I plan to debut on Sunday…
As a pillar of cloud and fire led the Israelites by day and night through the wilderness without fail, may the Holy Spirit guide and bless you in through your wilderness. As their resources and strength never failed know that God will never fail you. As God fought for them, know that God fights for you. As God brought them into the Promised Land, know that through faith in Jesus Christ, you will enter His Promised Kingdom. As God remained faithful to them, Go in peace knowing God will always be faithful to you.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
At the end of our morning worship, I typically offer the Aaronic blessing from Numbers 6:24-26. It is one I have heard and known for as long as I can remember – and it is beautiful, because, well, it’s the Word of God.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
I have heard other benedictions that I have liked. I have even made some up on the fly when my brain seemingly stopped working and I forgot Numbers 6. Whatever the case, my goal is to bless the people into the mission field as they glorify God.
The following benediction is something I wrote for worship this morning. It is nothing fancy, just something in which I want to bless my congregation and you. To God be the glory!
May you know the love of God that embraces;
the grace of God that frees;
the mercy of God that heals;
the peace of God that comforts;
the power of God that strengthens;
and the forgiveness of God in Jesus Christ that brings you home.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Here we are – Sunday morning – preparing to travel to a location to engage in corporate worship with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Why? Because God is so freak’in awesome that if you are not worshiping then something is seriously wrong. Jesus died on a cross for the forgiveness of your sins and rose from the grave that you may live forever in eternal joy with him. How can one not worship this God? How can one be ambivalent? Our Creator God is not distant but close, loving and intimate as a father to a child. Our Creator God is not too busy for you but knows every hair on your head – He’s given them each a unique name. Our Creator God reigns on high but lives in your heart.
Worship? Of course.
And so, what are you waiting for?
[The following is part of the Holy Communion liturgy I wrote for worship this morning. To God be the glory, always and forever.]
Yes, God, it is right and our joy to give thanks and praise to You, at all times and in all places. It is our joy for through Jesus Christ You gave us Your Spirit that we may know the truth of the Gospel – the forgiveness of our sins and the salvation of our souls through faith in Jesus Christ. You redeemed us though we are sinful. You saved us because we cannot save ourselves. You love us because, well, You are love. Oh God, our praise and worship is so inadequate in compassion to what You deserve. Our self-conceived works fall oh so short. May we just let go and let the works you have prepared beforehand manifest themselves through us that You are rightly glorified. And so, with the church on earth and the hosts of heaven we join in singing Your unending praise…
On this Reformation Sunday, I give thanks to God for raising up Martin Luther and the other Reformers to show us the truth of the Gospel – that we are not saved by/through works of the Law, but apart from the Law through the grace of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are saved by Faith alone in Christ alone by God’s grace alone as revealed in the Word alone all to the glory of God alone. And so let pray together and sign God’s unending praise.
It is indeed right and our pleasure to give thanks and praise to You, oh God, our Creator and Redeemer. We are sinful creatures who only want to glorify ourselves – looking out for number one – but through the Law You have convicted us and showed us how we fall short. But through Jesus, You saved us through his death and resurrection. And now, through faith in him, You have given us hope. How can one not be excited about this? How can one not rise up and praise You? How can one not live out loud, proclaiming Your glory through word and deed? And so we do just that by joining with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…
WOW, this one just flew through my fingers and onto the keyboard. No other words of introduction. So i’m just going to leave this right here. To God be the glory!
Oh yes, yes, YES! it is right and it is our joy to give You thanks and praise, oh God. You are our mighty Rock and Foundation, our Strong Fortress and Shelter, our Father who has redeemed us through Jesus Christ. You are our Life. Enliven us with Your Spirit that joy may spill forth from our beings and soak all those around us with Your love. May no one be missed. May we not show partiality but run to the lost and outcast. May we embrace our enemies and those difficult to love. May we beam with delight, so much so, that people are blinded and see nothing but Your glory. We love You and worship You, oh God, and thus we join with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise.