The pastor of Christ Reformed Baptist Church in Milwaukee, WI had a post last week on reverence in worship.
Reverential joy is also a restrained joy. When we read the Commandment and its attendant warning we are meant to be restrained. We are meant to ponder carefully every word and gesture while worshipping God, being certain not to lift up His name in an unworthy manner. Holy restraint is not only missing from contemporary worship; its absence is the stated goal of many churches!
Tozer said this last week, “No man has any moral right to propound any teaching about which there is not full agreement among Bible Christians until he has made himself familiar with church history and with the development of Christian doctrine through the centuries.”
On another day he said, “Dr. Samuel Johnson, the famous English sage, once said that one of the surest evidences of intellectual immaturity is the desire to startle people. . . . A church fed on excitement is no New Testament church at all. The desire for surface stimulation is a sure mark of the fallen nature, the very thing Christ died to deliver us from.” Everyone has the Tozer devotional in his RSS reader, right?
National Public Radio has provided streaming audio for Handel’s oratorio The Messiah.
My friend Chuck pointed out to me (I am ashamed to admit my unenlightenment, but Dickens seemed to have understood it wrong too) that the comma in “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” makes “merry” an adverb for “rest,” not an adjective for “gentlemen,” and asked me what it meant (he had known before, but had forgotten). Not knowing myself, I looked up “merry” in the OED, and it seemed to have the idea of pleasantness. “God rest you pleasantly, Gentlemen,” or “God keep in you good spirits, gentlemen” (this hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com site seems to hold great promise). Evidently one scholar thought that the “gentlemen” here were the shepherds, which may fit. Another helpful observation this friend of mine made to me was that there were no commas after “all is bright” (vs 1) and “love’s pure light” (vs 3) of “Silent Night, Holy Night.” One more note: as were caroling Saturday evening, I was struck at the second stanza of “Behold, the Great Creator Makes”; truly it captures the great mystery of Christmas.