Gaudete Sunday

Today is Gaudete Sunday. During this Advent Sunday’s readings is the scripture from Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always, I will say it again, Rejoice!” In it we remember the message of the Angel of the Lord and the Heavenly Host as they announcement to coming of the Messiah, “Fear not because I bring you good news of great joy!”

I recently came across a 16th Century Christmas carol entitled “Gaudete” which is a rejoicing song about the coming of the Messiah.

Here is the text with a loose translation.

Gaudete, Gaudete!
Christus et natus
Ex maria virgine,
Gaudete!
Rejoice, Rejoice!
Christ is born
Of the virgin Mary,
Rejoice!
Tempus ad est gratiae,
Hoc quod optabamus;
Carmina laetitiae,
Devote redamus.
Now is the time of grace
That we have longed.
Let us sing songs of joy!
Let us render devotion!
Deus homo factus est,
Natura mirante;
Mundus renovatus est
A Christo regnante.
God was made man;
Creation marvels.
The world was renewed
By Christ who is King.
Ezechiellis porta
Clausa pertransitur;
Unde lux est orta
Salus invenitur.
The closed gate of Ezekiel
Has been passed through;
From where the light arises
Salvation is found.
Ergo nostra cantio,
Psallat iam in lustro;
Benedicat Domino:
Salus Regi nostro.
Therefore let the assembly,
Sing in the brightness of dawning;
Let it praise the Lord:
Greetings to our King.

I love the language and what I think is a reference to Ezekiel 46. The imagery captures the true worship led by the King in the Restored Kingdom in which the Eastern gate is not only opened to the direction of the dawn but also to direction of those who are in captivity in Babylon. The passage reads:

“Thus says the Lord GOD: The gate of the inner court that faces east shall be shut on the six working days, but on the Sabbath day it shall be opened, and on the day of the new moon it shall be opened. The prince shall enter by the vestibule of the gate from outside, and shall take his stand by the post of the gate. The priests shall offer his burnt offering and his peace offerings, and he shall worship at the threshold of the gate. Then he shall go out, but the gate shall not be shut until evening.”

I also love the imagery of light — a light that is not mere inner illumination or enlightenment but is of a cosmic dawning that banishes darkness.

At any rate, I first came across Steeleye Span’s version of the carol which climb the music charts in England in the 60’s. Here’s their recent anniversary edition.


And a much more polished version by another choir here:

All in All: The Message of 1 Corinthians

Rather than spend a lot of time introducing 1 Corinthians, I thought I’d comment on a few things about the setting of the letter as well as to help give you a good pair of lenses by which to view the letter.

Concerning the Corinthian church…
The apostle Paul planted the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey which you may read about in Acts 18:1-17. One of the things we learn from Acts is that Paul had a hard go of it. In fact it was difficult enough, that he may have considered abandoning the effort. However, we read in Acts 18, that Jesus appeared to Paul to comfort him, saying, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack or harm you, because I have many people in this city.” Though this may not have been all Jesus told Paul, it was significant and encouraging enough that Paul remained, and in the midst of more opposition, continued to preach. Eventually, Paul was publicly charged with sedition by the Jews before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia. Though Gallio dismissed the charges, Sosthenes who was both a convert to Christianity and the synagogue ruler was beaten before the town.

Concerning the occasion and content of 1 Corinthians…

Paul, at the writing of 1 Corinthians, is living in Ephesus. He had written an earlier letter which they misread, and have both written back to Paul and sent members of the church with the letter of questions regarding the current circumstances. In addition, Paul has received verbal reports of trouble and unrest in the Corinthian church. Both to answer their questions and to deal with his own concerns for them, Paul has written the church. 
In 1 Corinthians, there are a number of questions and issues which Paul raises and speaks to that may sound very obscure, outdated, irrelevant, or just ridiculous such as his discussion on gender roles and head coverings. As you read, resist the urge to discount what he is saying. Reflect on the context of the circumstances into which he is writing, understand, and then seek to apply it to today. Just because he is speaking to a specific circumstance does not mean it is irrelevant. Indeed there is much in 1 Corinthians which could’ve been written today.
Among those questions which Paul addresses are the following:
  1. The ongoing denial and refusal to confront or repent of sexual sins,
  2. Division and bi-partisanship (Peter, Paul, Apollos, Christ…),
  3. How a Christian is to handle conflict, 
  4. Spiritual-gift snobbery; super-apostleship, elitism, giftedness,
  5. Idolatry and compromise with the culture,
  6. Significant confusion about their view of the people especially as how their view relates to the dignity of the human body.
Lastly, Concerning what you need to need to know about Corinth and the church in Corinth…
There are peculiarities to the specific situation which, if we understand them, we will better be able to apply the letter to our lives. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Corinth is a CROSSROADS. The city is situated at the isthmus which joins the southern half of Achaia with the European mainland. At this point the isthmus is 3 miles wide, and narrow enough that dragging your cargo ship along a causeway from the Aegean to a gateway to the Adriatic was thought to be a brilliant idea which of course they did.
  2. Corinth is NEW. It had recently been destroyed in the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean and rebuilt as a Roman colony.
  3. Because of there was not a long-standing social order. Corinth was a city of serious OPPORTUNITY. Corinth had been repopulated by Roman citizens and freedmen and so, it did not have time to develop an established noble class. Because the social order was determined more by merit than by class, Corinth was a place of great potential for an unconnected Roman citizen or a freed-man.
  4. This new city of great opportunity attracted many who were DRIVEN TO SUCCEED. Achievement and notoriety become extremely important for multitudes of achievers who need to set themselves apart from other gifted achievers. This is a kill or be killed, entrepreneurial city.
  5. Because of the urgency of opportunity and success, Corinthian culture was all about the IMMEDIATE. ‘Right now’ is the most important time and consequently the immediate is more REAL than any long-term commitment or discipline this leads to financial, relational, and moral blindness and compromise as its citizens are driven to ‘get it while you can’. 
  6. All this money and opportunity grew an AFFLUENT AND EXCLUSIVE society. Corinth was highly focused on the outward appearance and both the display of your material wealth as well as your social connection demanded that you work your relationships to your advantage by getting into some circles while keeping others out of yours.
  7. Lastly, Corinth was a PROMISCUOUS. society. As  a center of opportunity and affluence the society was decadent. In fact, to Corinthianize became a bi-word for the decadence of the wealth and moral permissiveness which worked in its citizens.
  8. All of these traits were being brought into the church.

I hope this helps. You can read 1 Corinthians in 45 minutes. Take some time and do that while keeping these thoughts with you. See you Sunday!

All in All: The Message of 1 Corinthians was originally published on Grace Presbyterian Church

All in All: The Message of 1 Corinthians

Rather than spend a lot of time introducing 1 Corinthians, I thought I’d comment on a few things about the setting of the letter as well as to help give you a good pair of lenses by which to view the letter.

Concerning the Corinthian church…
The apostle Paul planted the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey which you may read about in Acts 18:1-17. One of the things we learn from Acts is that Paul had a hard go of it. In fact it was difficult enough, that he may have considered abandoning the effort. However, we read in Acts 18, that Jesus appeared to Paul to comfort him, saying, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack or harm you, because I have many people in this city.” Though this may not have been all Jesus told Paul, it was significant and encouraging enough that Paul remained, and in the midst of more opposition, continued to preach. Eventually, Paul was publicly charged with sedition by the Jews before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia. Though Gallio dismissed the charges, Sosthenes who was both a convert to Christianity and the synagogue ruler was beaten before the town.

Concerning the occasion and content of 1 Corinthians…

Paul, at the writing of 1 Corinthians, is living in Ephesus. He had written an earlier letter which they misread, and have both written back to Paul and sent members of the church with the letter of questions regarding the current circumstances. In addition, Paul has received verbal reports of trouble and unrest in the Corinthian church. Both to answer their questions and to deal with his own concerns for them, Paul has written the church. 
In 1 Corinthians, there are a number of questions and issues which Paul raises and speaks to that may sound very obscure, outdated, irrelevant, or just ridiculous such as his discussion on gender roles and head coverings. As you read, resist the urge to discount what he is saying. Reflect on the context of the circumstances into which he is writing, understand, and then seek to apply it to today. Just because he is speaking to a specific circumstance does not mean it is irrelevant. Indeed there is much in 1 Corinthians which could’ve been written today.
Among those questions which Paul addresses are the following:
  1. The ongoing denial and refusal to confront or repent of sexual sins,
  2. Division and bi-partisanship (Peter, Paul, Apollos, Christ…),
  3. How a Christian is to handle conflict, 
  4. Spiritual-gift snobbery; super-apostleship, elitism, giftedness,
  5. Idolatry and compromise with the culture,
  6. Significant confusion about their view of the people especially as how their view relates to the dignity of the human body.
Lastly, Concerning what you need to need to know about Corinth and the church in Corinth…
There are peculiarities to the specific situation which, if we understand them, we will better be able to apply the letter to our lives. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. Corinth is a CROSSROADS. The city is situated at the isthmus which joins the southern half of Achaia with the European mainland. At this point the isthmus is 3 miles wide, and narrow enough that dragging your cargo ship along a causeway from the Aegean to a gateway to the Adriatic was thought to be a brilliant idea which of course they did.
  2. Corinth is NEW. It had recently been destroyed in the Roman conquest of the Mediterranean and rebuilt as a Roman colony.
  3. Because of there was not a long-standing social order. Corinth was a city of serious OPPORTUNITY. Corinth had been repopulated by Roman citizens and freedmen and so, it did not have time to develop an established noble class. Because the social order was determined more by merit than by class, Corinth was a place of great potential for an unconnected Roman citizen or a freed-man.
  4. This new city of great opportunity attracted many who were DRIVEN TO SUCCEED. Achievement and notoriety become extremely important for multitudes of achievers who need to set themselves apart from other gifted achievers. This is a kill or be killed, entrepreneurial city.
  5. Because of the urgency of opportunity and success, Corinthian culture was all about the IMMEDIATE. ‘Right now’ is the most important time and consequently the immediate is more REAL than any long-term commitment or discipline this leads to financial, relational, and moral blindness and compromise as its citizens are driven to ‘get it while you can’. 
  6. All this money and opportunity grew an AFFLUENT AND EXCLUSIVE society. Corinth was highly focused on the outward appearance and both the display of your material wealth as well as your social connection demanded that you work your relationships to your advantage by getting into some circles while keeping others out of yours.
  7. Lastly, Corinth was a PROMISCUOUS. society. As  a center of opportunity and affluence the society was decadent. In fact, to Corinthianize became a bi-word for the decadence of the wealth and moral permissiveness which worked in its citizens.
  8. All of these traits were being brought into the church.

I hope this helps. You can read 1 Corinthians in 45 minutes. Take some time and do that while keeping these thoughts with you. See you Sunday!

All in All: The Message of 1 Corinthians was originally published on Grace Presbyterian Church

The Four Holy Gospels


Fujimura – 4 Holy Gospels from Crossway on Vimeo.

Makoto Fujimura is illuminating The Four Holy Gospels in conjunction with a project at Crossway Books to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible.
(H.T. Justin Taylor)

Ecclesiastes Wisdom

Began studying today for next Sunday’s sermon. I’ve been working on paraphrasing Ecclesiastes 7:1 which reads: “A good name is better than fine perfume.”

Here’s my exposition: People will receive a stinking fool if he smells of fine perfume, but they will keep company with an honorable man even if he stinks. When the perfume wears off, all that is left is a stinking fool, but an honrable man always has his wise heart.

Existentialist Firefighter Postpones the Death of Three

(via The Onion).

When asked if he felt something, anything, after briefly extending the lives of three human beings, Farber replied in the negative.

“I was doing what, at that moment, I was doing,” he said. “Tomorrow, if there is another fire, I will do the same. Perhaps in that fire, I will be the one who is killed. Or, on the other hand, perhaps I will not. Either way, there will be anguish and sorrow at some unknown point.”

 Well, that pretty much sums it up for Qohelth, too.

"Martha, Martha"

Calvin in speaking of Jesus correction of Martha has this to say,

“Though the hospitality of Martha deserved commendation, and is commended, yet there were two faults in it which are pointed out by Christ. The first is, that Martha carried her activity beyond proper bounds; for Christ would rather have chosen to be entertained in a frugal manner, and at moderate expense, than that the holy woman should have submitted to so much toil. The second fault was, that Martha, by distracting her attention, and undertaking more labour than was necessary, deprived herself of the advantage of Christ’s visit. The excess is pointed out by Luke, when he speaks of much serving; for Christ was satisfied with little. It was just as if one were to give a magnificent reception to a prophet, and yet not to care about hearing him, but, on the contrary, to make so great and unnecessary preparations as to bury all the instruction.”

John Calvin, on Luke 10, Harmony of the Evangelists