Monday, November 30, 2015

LSB 359 Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming

LSB 359 Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming 

God promises one new beautiful rose, 
a single Branch of Jesse's line. 

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming
From tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming
As prophets long have sung,
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half-spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind.
To show God’s love aright,
She bore to us a Savior,
When half-spent was the night.

This flow’r, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness ev’rywhere.
True man, yet very God,
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens ev’ry load.

O Savior, child of Mary,
Who felt our human woe;
O Savior, King of glory,
Who dost our weakness know:
Bring us at length we pray
To the bright courts of heaven,
And to the endless day.

Public domain

Lovers give roses to show how much they care.

The Creator God gave us a rose. His very own precious rose. 

At the start, He made us in His image to image Him for the rest of creation. Every person was to reflect God's love to one another, to the creation, and back to God as a great and marvelous circulatory system of love. The Lover and the beloved in perfect harmony.
Ever since we willfully disengaged, God has been administering cosmic CPR. 

Isaiah promises that, in spite of the course of human events, God is not going to be put off fulfilling his promise to be with us.

Out of the wreckage of a failed attempt to set up the Kingdom of God by force, by the edge of a sword, with a kingship “like all the other nations”, God promises to grow one new beautiful rose, a single Branch of Jesse's line. A Savior born to rescue humanity from its true enemies has to come from somewhere.

God is so particular. 

He's concerned about the earthy details. God saves humanity by becoming human. God saves people by becoming a person, a real person with a real birth. 

God could not do that in a general sense. God couldn't do that by being born of all humanity in all times and in every place. That kind of “Universal birth” of God would be another round of mythology like Athena springing out of Zeus' head.

No, Jesus the Savior and Son of God is Son of Mary of Nazareth, a refugee in Bethlehem, at a particular time and in a particular place. Taking on a true human nature comes with the location problem.

Jesus is there and then.

Fascinatingly, in order to be there and then we needed Mary, Joseph and all their ancestors leading back to the first. So along the way God binds Himself to the ancestors of Jesus in order to encourage them to reflect His image the best they can until the Savior comes. 

Until God presents humanity with His bouquet.  

With His single long stem Rose, the Father brings beauty, life, and light back to the world – again, not in a general spiritualistic way, but by being the first one to lick death in single combat. 

This beautiful rose dispels the darkness, saves from sin and death, carries our burdens, feels our woe and weakness, and ushers us across the threshold of heaven. 

So, maybe we should gives roses for Christmas... 

Song of Songs 2:1
I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.

Jeremiah 23:5
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Jeremiah 33:15
In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.

Zechariah 6:12
And say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: for he shall branch out from his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:1-5

The Righteous Reign of the Branch
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.

And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.

Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

Matthew 1:1-25 (selected verses) Jesus' Ancestry

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,...

and Jesse the father of David the king...,

and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.

So all the generations from Abraham to David were fourteen generations, and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations, and from the deportation to Babylon to the Christ fourteen generations.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.

And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.

But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

LSB 358 From Heaven Above to Earth I Come

Carols teach the faith and still provide a cultural link to my neighbor

Herald angels sing. Bubbling, joyful shepherds can't keep still.  Mary ponders the Word made flesh. The babe in the manger coos, "Follow Me."
The cultural noise blares its distractions.

Fa la la la la -- Cha-ching

From Heaven Above is the first Christmas carol included in my new hymnal Lutheran Service Book and it is my intention to provide a reflective devotion on each of the Christmas hymns included in LSB as a portion of my personal focus on Jesus during these days.

Some will denounce the jump to Christmas as “too soon”; the church is still celebrating Advent. "Some" are right. It is too soon. I have championed that point of view each year of my ministry. In fact if you were worshiping in my congregation this past Sunday morning Advent hymns held sway, perhaps to the dismay of "others". So why not stick with the Advent hymns here on Gleanings? 

Several reasons:
  1. By December 24, I have lost what opportunity I had previously to set the Christmas Agenda. I have adapted King College's Nine Lessons and Carols to fit my congregation. But if I wait until December 24 to introduce the Christian Christmas Hymns of the Classical Tradition, the world has already framed the argument. Everyone already knows all that, and they are ready to box up Christmas on the 26th, twelve days or not. I cherish Advent. But these devotions on the Christmas hymns intend to redirect if not over come the Muzak noise of profane “christmas” and return to the sacred. I don't want my children wondering what I would say about these hymns, I want them to know.

  2. Christmas Hymns are still a culturally known commodity. People know Silent Night, while even Easter Hymns well known in the Church remain obscure in the culture. This gives the Church a witnessing opportunity. They're singing our song(s). Granted, most don't know that there is much difference between Silent Night and Frosty the Snowman, but therein lies the witnessing opportunity Christmas Carols provide.

From Heaven Above to Earth I Come  --  Luke 2:10-20

“From heav’n above to earth I come           10And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold,
To bear good news to ev’ry home;                  I bring you good news of a great joy that will
Glad tidings of great joy I bring,                       be for all the people.
Whereof I now will say and sing:

“To you this night is born a child                  11For unto you is born this day in the
Of Mary, chosen virgin mild;                           city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
This little child of lowly birth
Shall be the joy of all the earth.

“This is the Christ, our God Most High,
Who hears your sad and bitter cry;
He will Himself your Savior be
From all your sins to set you free.

“He will on you the gifts bestow
Prepared by God for all below,
That in His kingdom, bright and fair,
You may with us His glory share.

“These are the signs that you shall mark:       12And this will be a sign for you: you will
The swaddling clothes and manger dark.           find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths
There you will find the infant laid                       and lying in a manger.”
By whom the heav’ns and earth were made.”

How glad we’ll be to find it so!                    13And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude
Then with the shepherds let us go                            of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
To see what God for us has done                14“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace
In sending us His own dear Son.                            
 among those with whom he is pleased!

Come here, my friends, lift up your eyes,    15When the angels went away from them into heaven,
And see what in the manger lies.                  the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to
Who is this child, so young and fair?            Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, 
It is the Christ Child lying there.                   
which the Lord has made known to us.”

Welcome to earth, O noble Guest,              16 And they went with haste and found Mary

Through whom the sinful world is blest!            and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger.

You came to share my misery

That You might share Your joy with me.

Ah, Lord, though You created all,
How weak You are, so poor and small,
That You should choose to lay Your head
Where lowly cattle lately fed!

Were earth a thousand times as fair
And set with gold and jewels rare,
It would be far too poor and small
A cradle for the Lord of all.

Instead of soft and silken stuff
You have but hay and straw so rough
On which as King, so rich and great,
To be enthroned in royal state.

And so it pleases You to see
This simple truth revealed to me:
That worldly honor, wealth, and might
Are weak and worthless in Your sight.

Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Prepare a bed, soft, undefiled,
A quiet chamber set apart
For You to dwell within my heart.

My heart for very joy must leap;             17And when they saw it, they made known

My lips no more can silence keep.              the saying that had been told them  
I, too, must sing with joyful tongue              concerning this child.

That sweetest ancient cradlesong:           18And all who heard it wondered at 

                                                                  what the shepherds told them.

Glory to God in highest heav’n,
Who unto us His Son has giv’n!
While angels sing with pious mirth
A glad new year to all the earth.

 Public domain

19  But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

20  And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

Martin's carol reflects his preaching

Ok, Martin's carol is long. 15 verses is enough to send any modern running, much less a post modern. That’s another reason to take … your … time with good things. Suck on a candy cane while you read it through again.

Imagine you're a shepherd. Imagine it's Christmas Night. Imagine your watching your flocks in the fields around Bethlehem. Imagine you are awestruck and experiencing the Christmas proclamation for the first time. Imagine you need to go and see this great sight and that you have to see it right now. You run.

Martin's Christmas sermons and his Christmas carol both seek to appreciate the earthly, human, and surprising experience of the first Christmas.

What was Mary's experience? Joseph's? The Shepherds'? and even the Angels'?

What was in the Father's heart while the Holy Spirit was instilling faith in the humble?

Can the 16th century believer claim fellowship with a Bethlehem shepherd? Can a 21st century believer claim fellowship with both of them? Can one speak for another? Can we actually share in their experience?

How glad we’ll be to find it so!
Then with the shepherds
let us go
To see what God for us has done
In sending us His own dear Son.

“I believe in the the communion of saints.” - The Apostles' Creed

“With angels, and arch-angels, and all the company of heaven” - The Liturgy

I have fellowship with these people because they are my friends. I eat and drink with them in the ongoing feast gathering every Lord's Day. Because they are my friends, I love them and I cherish their experiences with our Lord. I learn from them while we kneel together.

My heart for very joy must leap;
My lips no more can silence keep.
I, too, must sing with joyful tongue
That sweetest ancient cradlesong.

2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich…

1 Timothy 3:16
Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.

Ephesians 1:21-23
21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
22And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.