“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things!” We have tasted the goodness of the Lord. This past week, many of us have celebrated the birth of Christ and considered again the glorious birth of Immanuel, God with us. Our hearts have rejoiced greatly with exceedingly great joy as we considered that the one who was born in humiliation did so in order that he might purchase us by his own blood and rise again from the dead. In the gospel of Luke, we see the shepherds, upon adoring the newborn Christ, naturally speaking with others of the good news that God is with man for our salvation. Now is our opportunity, having adored the incarnate Son of God, to speak of his glory with each other as we gather together for worship. So we confess with the Psalmist, “God alone does wondrous things!” We have tasted it. We have reveled in it. Now let us be merry once again together!
In the prayer service this coming Sunday, we will look at the first of Jesus’ prayers on the cross recorded by Luke. We will begin the service singing one final time “From Heaven Above to Earth I Come” (Red 232).
The sermon this Sunday returns again to the Gospel of Matthew and the magi’s visit to the king of the Jews in Bethlehem. We see them worshipping the child and opening up their treasures to him. This is the way we should respond to Jesus Christ, with adoring worship, sacrificial gifts of love, and reverent joy. We should in submission and obedience “Kiss the Son” (Psa 2). If the nations’ kings should bring Yahweh’s king gifts (Psalm 72:10), how much more should we? If kings fall down before the royal son (Psalm 72:11), how much more should we? If the magi offer such “worship” and gifts, how much more should we who have beheld the glory of the Son of God in all his saving grace and the riches of his redemption? This Sunday as we gather together, we have the privilege of entering into the holy presence of God and rendering to the Father, the Lord’s Christ, and the Holy Spirit, the glory due this holy Trinity. This is the way we will go about this worship:
Call to Worship: Psalm 72:18-19
Hymn 238 [Red] Good Christian Men, Rejoice
Congregational Reading: Psalm 72:1-11
Doxology: Doxology, Red 283
Hymn 236 [Red] Hark! the Herald Angels Sing
Ministry of Music: Behold, the Great Creator Makes
Scripture Reading: Job 10 & 2 Corinthians 12:11-21
Hymn [Insert] O LittleTown of Bethlehem
Sermon: The Magi, Part 2 from Matthew 1:1-12
Hymn [Insert] In the Bleak Mid-winter Chrisina Rosetti’s carol is not about winter or snow. Set beautifully to the master composer Gustav Holst’s sublime tune, the hymn uses winter and snow as a metaphor for the coldness and hardness of men’s hearts. In the text before us this Sunday, we see the magi offering extravagant gifs to the infant King of the Jews. Most (all) of us are incapable of giving such riches. But the closing Rosetti’s poem reminds us that we have our part to give: “Yet what I can I give him: give my heart.” This is the response Jesus demands of us. To give him less is respond like Herod or the religious leaders in Jerusalem. Yet, to give our heart is the hardest to give, for our sins and autonomy are very precious to us. We think that giving him our heart will end in unhappiness or a loss of pleasure. But, as all who have found Jesus Christ by faith can attest, to give him your heart is truly to find happiness and pleasure. In the end, the glorious joy and happiness of communion with God, union with Christ, and eternal life are no match for this world’s empty promises. So may we respond to Jesus, by giving him our heart.
In Sunday School, I will teach one more time on the classic of Christian devotion, Jonathan Edwards’s Religious Affections.