The Worship Philes

What is worship, really? Is it when folks get together to sing? Does it involve ritual?
I’d like to think that the grandeur and glory of God has something to do with it. Worship is the affirmation of the Incarnational truth, Immanuel–God is with us. His presence envelops us. His holiness surrounds us. We celebrate his wonders and his works. Where does one find such worship?

I am teaching a class at my alma mater this Spring to explore these kinds of questions. It is entitled ‘History of Christian Worship.’ Any ideas from the neophytes?

Holy Nativity

The Church has given us a gift, not only in the yearly celebration of Christmas day, but also the Christmas season of 12 days. After the boxes are unpacked, don’t forget that reflection of the Incarnation cannot be limited to one day. Tell someone ‘Merry Christmas’ tommorrow and see what kind of a shocked look you get! If we are going to celebrate the great Feast, why not celebrate the season!

From the collect of Christmas Day:
Almighty God, you have given your only begotten Son to
take our nature upon him, and to be born this day of a pure
virgin: Grant that we, who have been born again and made
your children by adoption and grace, may daily be renewed
by your Holy Spirit; through our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom
with you and the same Spirit be honor and glory, now and
for ever. Amen.

Speaking of Prayer and Advent

Listen to the Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Advent from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer:

Lord, raise up (we pray thee) thy power,
and come among us, and with great
might succour us; that whereas, through our
sins and wickedness, we are sore let and
hindered in running the race that is set before
us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily
help and deliver us, through the satisfaction of
thy Son our Lord, to whom, with thee and the
Holy Spirit, be honour and glory, world
without end. Amen.

I Must Increase

Have you ever noticed how our prayers often revolve around building our little corner of the world? ‘Lord, please bless my…’ ‘Lord, increase my…’ ‘Lord, give me more…’

Perhaps we don’t see ourselves as this bold and presumptious, but it often turns out this way. I know many of my prayers ask (tell?) God to improve my situation. Remember the big thing a few years back was the ‘Prayer of Jabez,’ the book that encouraged readers to seek to ‘expand’ their own personal universe?

The words of John the Baptist are telling. ‘He must increase, I must decrease.’ John was not asking for expansion but a downscaling; not a promotion but a demotion.

The trouble is, God takes John up on the request. Not more than a few verses later, poor John’s head is severed like a conejo. St. Teresa of Avila questioned the Lord as to why she had to endure the suffering she did to which the Lord replied, “Teresa, that’s how I treat my friends” Teresa responded, “No wonder you have so few friends.”

What would Jabez say? The trouble with these blasted saints is that they are lousy at selling books.