The Pastor's Pen
The days leading up to Christmas are filled with music. Christmas carols in the mall and carolers on the sidewalk, school choirs and bands fill auditoriums with music and the Hallelujah Chorusrings from the rafters. (Never mind that it is part of the Easter section of Handel’s Messiah.) It is the one time every year that our secular and pluralistic world allows, even invites us to sing about our Savior who’s birth we prepare to celebrate.
For us, Advent marks the new year as well as a new liturgical season. This year, in Series C of our lectionary, the primary gospel will be Luke and Luke’s account of this season blesses us with four songs that make the all-time greatest hits in Christian worship. They appear in our liturgy with their Latin names: the Benedictus, the Magnificat, Nunc Dimittis and Gloria in Excelsis. But this year, during our Wednesday Evening Vespers and on Christmas Eve, we will consider them under more common names.
Zechariah’s Benedictus is really a song of Amazing Gift. The gift of God coming to visit, to be with His people, to be the horn of our salvation. His amazing gift shines into our world darkened by sin and sorrow with the light of salvation. It is the gift of Jesus to guide our feet on paths of His righteousness.
Mary’s Magnificat is really a song of Amazing Love. Love that chose a young girl not for her merit but in His mercy. In response, Mary magnifies the Lord; she makes large for us all to see God’s love in visiting His people. God in turn magnifies us, He makes our hearts large, in His undeserved love and we respond in kind by magnifying God’s amazing love for all the world to see.
Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis is really a song of Amazing Peace. Peace that comes as a result of knowing and trusting in God’s salvation through Christ. That peace brings His presence into every corner of our life and becomes a witness to our world so desperately in need of real peace.
Finally, on Christmas Eve, the angels’ Gloria in Excelsis is really a song of Amazing Glory. God’s glory that reflects God’s grace given to a sinful world that deserved nothing but eternal darkness and terrors. Instead, God’s glory brings light and peace that is recognized and grasped by true faith, the gift of the Holy Spirit, in the hearts and lives of the redeemed.
So, come and sing! Enjoy the songs of Christmas that only Luke records for us this Advent season. As we have in the past, we will gather for at 6 p.m. for a soup supper in the Fellowship Hall on Wednesday evenings. There is a sign-up sheet in the Narthex if you would like to help with the meal. Then at 7 p.m. we gather for carols followed by our Vespers Service in the Sanctuary on Wednesday evenings. On Christmas Eve we also gather at 7:00 p.m. for the Divine Service. May the Lord bless our singing the songs of Advent.
Rev. J. Wesley Beck