Friday, December 18, 2009

Come, Lord of Power and Might

The Season of Light:
The Christmas 'Novena', Day 2

The Word:
Jeremiah 23:5-8 (God will raise up a righteous shoot to David; he will be called 'The Lord our justice') Psalm 72: 1-2, 12-13, 18-19 (He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor)
Matthew 1:18-25 (Gabriel to Joseph: 'Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife')

The will of God be done by us,
The law of God be kept by us,
Our wayward will controlled by us,
Our tongue-in-cheek be held by us,
Repentance timely made by us,
Christ's passion understood by us,
Our sinful nature shunned by us,
Much on the
End be mused by us,
And death be blessed found by us,
With angel's music heard by us,
And God's high praises sung by us,
Forever and for aye.

--from "Blessed Be the Holy Will of God" in Treasury of Irish Religious Verse

Veni, Veni Adonai!
Qui populo in Sinai
Legem dedisti vertice,
In Majestate gloriae.

Gaude, gaude!
Emmanuel nascetur pro te, Israel.

O come, O come, great Lord of might,
Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times once gave the law
In cloud and majesty and awe.

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

--O Come, O Come Emmanuel
(verse six)

On today's birthday list: Charles Wesley and Michael Binsfeld. Everybody should know the former and the latter was my pastor for eleven years.

I have always been cognizant of the need to adapt liturgy to fit special occasions. For example, when Memorial Day rolls around, I would expect most of the patriotic hymns to get an airing. It is good to know that Charles Wesley did well enough in writing over 2000 hymns (and published over 5500), many of which maintain popularity across denominational lines. That, too, seems to be important in the American church.

But one of the ironies of adaptable liturgy is that it occasionally becomes self-serving rather than God-worshiping. Trying to somehow incorporate "Happy Birthday To You" (as was an unofficial custom for about 12 years on the Sunday closest to 12/18) and be discreet about it was a challenge. I don't know that I ever really got past this subtle nuance.

A loose-structured worship service has its advantages. One of the reasons people attend the church or synagogue of their choice is (hopefully) an opportunity for God to reach them in a personal way. It's taken me 55 years to get to the place I am now, and I am still in the process. I am far from perfect. There are days when I forget and miss the potential for that encounter. There are other days when it stares me in the face and I walk past it. These last days before Christmas, we await God's coming to we at least try to go to meet him?

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