Monthly Archives: December 2016

More than we can ask or imagine

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When Christians talk about the Incarnation, they rightly focus on God’s love for us which is so great that He was willing become human Himself, being born into a poor family in an obscure and troublesome province in the Roman Empire, to save ungrateful people who were in open rebellion against Him. It was part of a divine rescue mission motivated by love, grace, mercy, compassion.

If saving us from the consequences of our sin was all the Incarnation would accomplish, that would have been more than enough to give us cause to celebrate. But the Incarnation did much more than that.

With the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Trinity took on a human nature in the person of Jesus Christ. And Jesus Christ has this human nature permanently. Right now, in Heaven, Jesus continues to have His human nature, and He will have His human nature into all eternity.

Think about that: God now shares a nature with us.

Humans were given a unique dignity and role when God created us in His image, and this had always been the foundation of the high value that God set on human life. With the Incarnation, however, God has raised us up even higher. We are told that God’s people will reign with Christ in the New Heaven and New Earth, that Jesus will share His glory with us, that angels are ministering spirits sent to us, that we will judge the angels, that we are seated with Christ in glory, that we share in the love and intimacy of the Persons of the Trinity, that the Father loves us just as He loves the Son, that we are in God and God is in us, that we have become partakers of the divine nature.

With the Incarnation, God shares in our nature, and so we are connected to God in a deeper, more intimate way than anything else in all creation, visible or invisible.

And that is cause for awe, worship, and celebration.

Advent Devotional: December 24

December 24: These are based on the O Antiphons, traditionally said during  church services from December 18 to December 24; they are also the basis for the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” Read the Antiphon to understand what it is saying, then spend some time reading and meditating on the scriptural texts. Then pray the Antiphon in light of your reading of the Scriptures and end by singing the verse of “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” For more information on the history of the prayers, Click here.

O Emmanuel, Rex et legifer noster,
expectratio gentium, et Salvator earum:
veni ad salvandum nos,
Domines, Deus noster.

O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver,
desire of the nations, Savior of all people:
Come and set us free, Lord our God.

Isaiah 7:14
Matthew 1:23

Veni, Veni, Emmanuel captivum solve Israel,
qui gemit in exsilio, privatus Dei Filio.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel!

(1) O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Advent Devotional: December 23

December 23: These are based on the O Antiphons, traditionally said during  church services from December 18 to December 24; they are also the basis for the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” Read the Antiphon to understand what it is saying, then spend some time reading and meditating on the scriptural texts. Then pray the Antiphon in light of your reading of the Scriptures and end by singing the verse of “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” For more information on the history of the prayers, Click here.

O Rex Gentium, et desideratus earum,
lapisque angularis, qui facis utraque unum:
veni, et salva hominem,
quem de limo formasti.

Isaiah 2:4; 11:10
Daniel 7:14
Romans 15:12
Ephesians 2:14, 19-20

O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart;
O Keystone of the mighty arch of man:
Come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust.

Veni, Veni, Rex Gentium, Veni, Redemptor omnium,
ut salvas tuos famulos peccati sibi conscios.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel!

(7) O Come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven’s peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Death at Christmas

Christmas is a time when families get together, when celebrations are held and memories made. But it is also a time when the loss of family members and friends can be felt far more acutely. Twenty-one years ago today, I lost my beloved father-in-law, Ed Elsner. This is an article I wrote about learning to come to grips with loss at Christmas time. If you are coping with grief, may it help comfort you in the face of your loss. And may it remind all of us for the reason why Christmas is so necessary.

Advent Devotional: December 22

December 22: These are based on the O Antiphons, traditionally said during  church services from December 18 to December 24; they are also the basis for the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” Read the Antiphon to understand what it is saying, then spend some time reading and meditating on the scriptural texts. Then pray the Antiphon in light of your reading of the Scriptures and end by singing the verse of “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” For more information on the history of the prayers, Click here.

O Oriens, splendor lucis aeternae,
et sol justitiae:
veni, et illumina sedentes in tenebris,
et umbra mortis.

O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:
Come, shine on those who dwell in darkness
and the shadow of death.

Isaiah 9:1-2; 58:8; 60:18-20
Malachi 4:2
Luke 1:78-79
John 8:12
Revelation 21:23-25; 22:16

Veni, Veni O Oriens, solare nos adveniens,
noctis depelle nebulas, dirasque mortis tenebras.
Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel!

(6) O Come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
our spirits by thine Advent here;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Advent Devotional: December 21

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December 21: These are based on the O Antiphons, traditionally said during  church services from December 18 to December 24; they are also the basis for the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” Read the Antiphon to understand what it is saying, then spend some time reading and meditating on the scriptural texts. Then pray the Antiphon in light of your reading of the Scriptures and end by singing the verse of “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” For more information on the history of the prayers, Click here.

 

O Clavis David, et sceptrum domus Israel,
qui aperis, et nemo claudit; claudis, et nemo aperuit:
veni, et educ vinctum de domo carceris,
sedentem in tenebris, et umbra mortis.

O Key of David, O royal Power of Israel,
controlling at your will the gate of heaven:
Come, break down the prison walls of death
for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death;
and lead your captive people into freedom.

Isaiah 9:1-2; 22:22
Matthew 4:16; 16:19
Luke 1:79
Revelation 3:7

Veni, Clavis Davidica, regna reclude caelica,
fac iter tutum superum, et claude vias inferum.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel!

(5) O Come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav’nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
and close the path to misery.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Advent Devotional: December 20

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December 20: These are based on the O Antiphons, traditionally said during  church services from December 18 to December 24; they are also the basis for the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” Read the Antiphon to understand what it is saying, then spend some time reading and meditating on the scriptural texts. Then pray the Antiphon in light of your reading of the Scriptures and end by singing the verse of “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” For more information on the history of the prayers, Click here.

O Radix Jesse, qui stas in signum populorum,
super quem continebunt reges os suum,
quem gentes deprecabuntur:
veni ad liberandum nos, jam noli tardare.

O Root of Jesse,
you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples;
kings stand silent in your presence;
the nations bow down in worship before you.

Isaiah 11:1, 10; 52:15
Romans 15:12

Veni, O Iesse virgula, ex hostis tuos ungula,
de spectu tuos tartari educ et antro barathri.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel!

(4) O Come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan’s tyranny.
From depth of Hell they people save
and give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

Advent Devotional: December 19

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December 19: These are based on the O Antiphons, traditionally said during  church services from December 18 to December 24; they are also the basis for the hymn “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” Read the Antiphon to understand what it is saying, then spend some time reading and meditating on the scriptural texts. Then pray the Antiphon in light of your reading of the Scriptures and end by singing the verse of “O Come, O Come, Emanuel.” For more information on the history of the prayers, Click here.

O Adonai, et dux domus Israel,
qui Moyse in igne flammae rubi apparuisti,
et ei in Sina legem dedisti:
veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.

O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

Isaiah 33:22; 63:11-12
Exodus 3:2; 24:12
Micah 6:4
Acts 7:30-31

Veni, Veni, Adonai, qui populo in Sinai
legem dedisti vertice in maiestate gloriae.

Gaude! Gaude! Emmanuel nascetur pro te Israel!

(3) O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times didst give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel