Advent
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By In Interviews, Podcast, Theology

Episode 20: A Conversation about Advent

In this Episode of the Kuyperian Commentary Podcast, Pastor Uri Brito and Mr. Sean Johnson discuss the next season of the Church Calendar: Advent. The season of Advent, which comes from the Latin word adventus meaning “coming” or “visit,” begins four Sundays before Christmas and ends on Christmas Eve. Advent is the beginning of the liturgical year for Christians.

Pastor Uri explains how this section of the church calendar helps give us a picture of the Gospel in a Biblical promise and fulfillment paradigm. “Advent and Christmas work together… and when we skip Advent we’re missing that first portion of the Gospel. “He also recommends the book: The Liturgical Year: The Spiraling Adventure of the Spiritual Life by Joan Chittister.

Mr. Sean Johnson continues to emphasize the importance of observing Advent with, “Anything that you want to enjoy seems to deserve the service of expectation… Anything that you can await is going to be enjoyed more.” Both believe that Advent adds to the importance and significance of our greater Christmas feast. Brito reminds us that: “If we have a major event like Christmas on December 25 and we simply arrive at Christmas without haven’t spent the season prior to that in preparation for Christmas, I think over the years—it trivializes the event. It becomes something you do, not something you expect.”

Advent 2017 will begin on Sunday, December 3 and ends on Sunday, December 24. The liturgical color for Advent is purple, Kuyperian Contributor Steve Macias also wrote on its significance here.

 

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By In Theology, Worship

10 Questions Preachers Should Ask Before Sunday Morning

I have been a pastor for almost a decade. I spend between 12-15 hours each week thinking, researching, and writing before I deliver the first words in my Sunday sermon.a The process of writing my sermon goes through a lengthy journey each week. I contemplate several questions from Monday to Friday which force me to edit and re-edit my manuscript. There is no perfect sermon, but a sermon that goes through revisions and asks import questions has a much better chance of communicating with clarity than the self-assured preacher who engages the sermonic task with nothing more than academic lenses.

I have compiled a list of ten questions I ask myself each week at some point or another.

Question #1: Is this language clear? When you write a manuscript ( as I do) you have an opportunity to carefully consider the language you use. I make a habit of reading my sermon out loud which leads me to realize that certain phrases do not convey the idea clearly. A well-written sermon does not necessarily mean a well-delivered sermon. Reading my sermons out loud causes me to re-write and look for other ways to explain a concept or application more clearly.

Question #2: Is there a need to use high theological language in this sermon? Seminary graduates are often tempted to use the best of their training in the wrong environment. People are not listening to you to hear your theological acumen. I am well aware that some in the congregation would be entirely comfortable with words like perichoresis and Arianism. I am not opposed to using high theological discourse. Words like atonement, justification, sanctification are biblical and need to be defined. But extra-biblical terms and ideologies should be employed sparingly. Much of this can be dealt in a Sunday School class or other environments. High theological language needs to be used with great care, and I think it needs to be avoided as much as possible in the Sunday sermon.

Question #3: Can I make this sermon even shorter? As I read my sermons each week, I find that I can cut a paragraph or two easily, or depending on how long you preach, perhaps an entire page. This is an important lesson for new preachers: not everything needs to be said. Shorter sermons–which I strongly advocateb–force you to say what’s important and keep some of your research in the footnotes where it belongs. Preachers need to learn what to prioritize in a sermon so as not to unload unnecessary information on their parishioners. (more…)

  1. Thankful for great interactions before this article was published. It helped sharpen my points  (back)
  2. By this I mean sermons no longer than 30 minutes  (back)

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By In Theology, Worship

10 Reasons to Celebrate the Church Calendar

Advent has begun in full force. The pro-calendar apologists have started to fight for their cause. The anti-calendar intoleristas are in full Puritan gear armed to fight for their white walls and the right to preach on Leviticus on Christmas morning.

I side with the pro-calendar party. We believe we can make America great again by incorporating a heavy dose of Jesus throughout the year. My claim is that many evangelical churches that share a slight Catholic-phobia towards the Church Calendar are already drinking much of the calendar. Most Baptist churches here in the South—who have always celebrated Christmas and Easter–are now adopting the Advent Wreath by prominently displaying it on Sunday morning. My modest proposal is to encourage these churches to take a few more steps.

I should say at the outset that I have no intention to take this to the “next level.” I am a happy ecumenical Protestant who has zero interest in jumping onto the Vatican bandwagon. I say this to stress that I am not advocating the officialization of the celebration of saints and their pets into the life of the Church. I think the Church does best and remains most faithful to the Holy Scriptures when she sticks to Jesus and his life and its effects in the world. Keep it simple students!

With that in mind, here are ten reasons I think evangelicals should celebrate the Church Calendar:

First, for those of us in the Reformed tradition, we should note that there is precedent for such observance. For instance, the Second Helvetic Confession of 1566 states (XXIV):

“Moreover, if the churches do religiously celebrate the memory of the Lord’s Nativity, Circumcision, Passion, Resurrection, and of his Ascension into heaven, and the sending of the    Holy Spirit upon his disciples, according to Christian liberty, we do very well approve of it.”

The continental Reformers differed with our Scottish brothers on these issues. Celebrating the Church Calendar can be unmistakably reformational.

Second, the Church Calendar helps us to see the world through the life of Messiah Jesus. We live in an era where political messiahs come and go. One way to de-emphasize the politics of man is to proclaim the politics of heaven. We do this most beautifully by following the Church Calendar and teaching our people and the nations about the only true Lord.

Third, the Church Calendar can serve to differentiate God’s time from the world’s time. Christians ought to give the question “What time is it?” a fundamentally different answer. It may be 9:22AM central time as I write these words, but the Christian knows that it’s 9:22AM in God’s world. God controls time, and he also orders time, and he has chosen Jesus (Hebrews 1) to speak. We redeem time most Christianly when Jesus is the center of it.

Fourth, some may ask: “Isn’t Jesus always proclaimed whether we celebrate Epiphany or not?” Of course He is. And I do not doubt the motives of many who do not follow the Church Calendar. My response, however, is that we can’t say everything about Jesus all the time, which is why we need to walk through his life and give emphasis to different portions of his life so that God’s people can know that Easter is not complete without an Ascension Sunday. Celebrating the Church Calendar helps us to understand the total Christ and his total life.

Fifth, celebrating the Church Calendar gives us parents beautiful ways to catechize our children with Jesus. Our children’s ABCs need to be Christocentric. They need to know that life only makes sense because Jesus has come for us. Numbers, letters, and playtime are taught best when Jesus rules supremely in the catechism of the home. Children love stories. Story-telling is fundamentally the role of the Calendar. The Calendar helps our kids to be formed by right chronological habits. It helps our children to know we are part of a larger story.

Sixth, celebrating the Church Calendar is useful for counseling. Calendar use is helpful to those who grieve. The Church Calendar most accurately reflects the eclectic nature of the Psalmist who laments, rejoices, and prays. Many who grieve may be a part of a community that is strict, abstract, and heavily theological. While good exegesis is good for the soul and while good systematic theology cheers the mind, a three-year series through I Corinthians can frustrate the broken-hearted. Walk the broken through the Calendar, and she will understand that Easter comes after Lent; that joy comes after sorrow. On the other hand, we can use the Calendar to teach the over-realized optimist that we need to set periods of time to focus on grieving and confessing our sins to the Lord of Calvary.

Seventh, celebrating the Church Calendar gives us an opportunity to add colors to the Church. The Christian faith is true and good, but it is also beautiful. This may seem like a minor point, but colors add to the brilliance of Church life. The Bible loves colors. It shows the favor of God (Gen. 37:3). The Church Calendar glorifies natural colors and gives them greater meaning.

Eighth, celebrating the Church Calendar gives us something to talk about. You can’t speak of the Advent Wreath without talking about hope, joy, love, and peace. The Church Calendar helps us to focus on those Christian virtues that form us as a community.

Ninth, celebrating the Church Calendar also encourages our children, friends, and unbelievers to ask questions about the faith. Why are there forty days in Lent? Why are there 12 days in Christmas? Why is purple the color of Lent? When questions arise, we draw people to the text where questions are answered and Jesus is revealed.

Finally, celebrating the Church Calendar gives us a big gospel. We are an expectant people. We no longer wait for a Messiah, but we expect the Messiah to come again and again into our lives to disperse the gloomy clouds of night and death’s dark shadows put to flight. We need the Calendar because we lose sight of what’s important. We need the Calendar because the Gospel is too big and our Lord too mighty. The Calendar focuses our attention carefully, chronologically, and conscientiously through the work of Jesus and what that work means for us and the world.

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By In Theology

On Dasher

enthronement of sonA virgin conceived. A carpenter believed. Shepherds dutifully tended their flocks, and angels joyfully followed their orders. God’s messengers made announcements from high in the heavens while a young couple made preparations in a lowly stable. A baby was born—rather the baby was born. The King of Kings left his throne and took up residence on his footstool.

Advent and Christmas—the commemoration of Jesus Christ’s nativity is festive and rightfully so. The only begotten Son of the Father came to earth in obscurity only once, and this unique, cosmos changing event inspires singers to sing, pipers to pipe, and dancers to dance. The trimming and lighting of buildings and trees; the baking and cooking and roasting of food; the drinking of glasses and bottles of wine; the making and buying and giving of gifts are exceedingly appropriate human responses to the coming of Messiah. There is every reason to celebrate for the King of Kings has come, but not all celebrated his arrival.

Herod, the king of Judea, heard of this child born King of the Jews. In futility he attempted to commit regicide, but could only accomplish infanticide—mass infanticide. This king of the earth set himself up against the Lord and against his Anointed. Herod dashed the innocents; Rachel wept; comfort was refused. Joseph dreamed and fled. Herod died. Joseph dreamed again and returned. Thus, out of Egypt God called his Son. The Holy Family settled in Nazareth, from whence something good finally came. No, not something good—someone great.

The great thing about a great king—a reason to celebrate—is that he always remembers that he is never less than a king. He serves as king from morning to noon and from noon until night. He sleeps as a king and awakens a king in the morning. A great king never tires, yea, he ever lives to serve his people, and Jesus Christ, the son of Mary, is such a King. He always protects his people. He always stands against his foes. He instructs his people to recognize the enemy, and he equips and prepares them to fight.

This requires a great king to be a great judge. As long as there are enemies, a king must rightly separate friend from foe.  Royal discernment is the order of the day in order to distribute weal and woe accordingly, and distribute it he will, for a great king is not one to be trifled with.

The righteous are left unprotected if the evil are left unchecked. Therefore, a merciful king wields a rod of iron for a singular act with a manifold purpose: to strike down the impudent enemy, thereby protecting the innocent from the enemy’s wiles. Since the enemy’s endgame is nothing shy of the throne itself, for a righteous king to guard his throne is to guard his people. The enemy wants the kingdom, the throne, and, ultimately, the people. The enemy wants it all. He has ever since that tree in the middle of the garden.

Like the vikings of old, this enemy cannot be placated. To quote Rudyard Kipling, “We’ve proved it again and again. That if you once pay him the Dane-geld, you never get rid of the Dane.” Either the enemy must be converted, thereby ceasing to be a threat by ceasing to be the enemy, or the enemy must be dashed into pieces, thereby ceasing to be the enemy by simply ceasing to be. A wise king knows this and strikes a death blow with exacting precision.

As the kings of the earth take counsel together and set themselves against the Lord and against his Anointed this Advent season, the followers of the King of Kings have no reason to fear and every reason to rejoice. The whole point of Advent is that we now know the name of the Lord’s Anointed. Jesus is the Son to be kissed, lest he be angry and you perish in the way. And Jesus is the One who blesses all those who take refuge in him (Psalm 2:12). Behold, the goodness and severity of God (Rom. 11:22).

A virgin conceived. A carpenter believed. The baby was born. The King of Kings left his throne and took up residence on his footstool. King Jesus laid down his life, and he took it up again. Wielding a rod of iron, he needed only one swing to both conquer his foe and save his people. In Jesus Christ, we have every reason to rejoice and sing, to eat and drink, and to have ourselves a merry little Christmas.

“You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Psalm 2:9

This article was originally published in Every Thought Captive magazine, Volume 18 Issue 10, December 2014<>game mobiкак правильно раскрутить

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By In Theology, Worship

The Purple Christ at Advent

Advent-Wreath-first-candle-Advent-Sunday

The Incarnation of Color

Sunday was the first Sunday in the 2014 Advent season and the beginning of a new liturgical year. For many Christians, this was marked by advent candles, purple vestments, and hymns longing for the coming of our savior. In Advent, we remember that the God who created all things, descended down into our world and became one of us. Through the divine mystery of the incarnation, the Almighty communicates his transcendence through the physical world around us.

A long study can and has been made about the coordination of particular colors with the seasons of the year and nearly every historic branch of Christianity has embraced both a liturgical Calendar with symbolic colors to mark the days. As we look back to a time when the darkness of man was pierced by the advent of a new and great light – we should see the new redeemed world as the refracted beauty of Christ’s perfect light. It is not merely from darkness to light – but from the utter darkness to the light of lights. The light of God’s promise was once raised colorfully above Noah and is now is the light of the world and the light of life. Christ has moved the world from a dark and cold blackness into the warm spectrum of hope.

A Horse of a Different Color

St. John’s work uses color to invoke particular ideas to the mind of his readers. In Revelation, a white horse is not merely descriptive, but instead serves as a reminder of the holy victory of Christ to a people nearing a time of great persecution. White becomes more than a color and embodies a feeling or encapsulates an idea. For this same reason, white continues to invoke the queenly idea of purity and beauty as a bride wears her dress down the aisle. To the first century Jewish reader, white is the Diamond of Naphtali and the clear Jasper of the New Jerusalem and this beauty of the kingdom is conveyed through a color.

Dr. Peter Leithart describes this phenomenon in relation to the essence of who our God is, “God is a communicative being. He doesn’t just use words; He is the Word. He made us in His image and likeness, as communicative beings. Even if we keep our mouths firmly shut, we cannot avoid saying something; we cannot not communicate. ”

The Calendar and the tone of the Gospel

Christ’s Church, through the use of vestments and paraments, has employed liturgical colors in accordance with the church calendar to focus our devotion on particular themes and tones of the Gospel.

In the Advent season, the color purple is used to symbolize the coming of a royal Messiah, our King Jesus. It is the beginning of the church year, just as the birth of Christ is the start of the gospel. In Advent we prepare for our Lord’s coming in three ways: celebrating his incarnation at Christmas, remembering his coming into our hearts, and anticipating his coming again to judge the quick and the dead. During Advent we recall Israel penitently waiting before the Messiah appeared. As the prophet Isaiah said,

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)

The color purple should always remind you of this Scripture. During Advent we should place both this scripture and the color purple before the eyes of the people.

The Purple Christ at Advent

aachaliceThe wine our Lord chooses to demonstrate his real presence is purple and Melchizedek teaches us that wine itself is a kingly substance. Wine is symbolically identified with the blessings of the kingdom throughout the Scripture. This is what James B. Jordan calls “the eschatological Messianic kingdom feast.” The promised land in the Old Testament and the kingdom of our Lord in the New Testament are richly portrayed as places abounding with wine. Thus the color and substance work together, developing a rather pointed imagery – particularly relevant to the time of Advent.

The Bible describes the high priest’s clothing as fine linen and purple, and our Lord makes a reference to this in his parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  The rich man is dressed in purple and fine linen — Jesus’ hearers would have seen an allusion to the high priest here. Christ’s reference to purple draws a literary connection in the minds of listeners. Christ’s nature as a our high priest is shown in biblical imagery as well; as when He was arrested, the Roman soldiers girded him in a purple robe. The color is not meaningless, but rather directs us to the notion that our high priest was to be the sacrifice, the royal sacrifice.

Christ Cleanses the Temple From What is Common

Attention to liturgical detail is in no way foreign to Christian thought or an innovation of Roman authorities. A familiarity with the Pentateuch reveals that God has plenty to say about the way he would like to be worshiped and these ceremonies were revealing the beauty of Christ. As Percy Dearmer rightly points out,

“Our Lord attended the ritualistic services of the Temple; nay, He was careful to be present at those great feasts when the ceremonial was most elaborate. Yet no word of censure ever escaped His lips. This was the more remarkable, because He was evidently far from ignoring the subject. No one ever appreciated the danger of formalism so keenly as He: He did condemn most strongly the vain private ceremonies of the Pharisees. Also, on two occasions He cleansed the Temple, driving out, not those who adorned it with ceremonial, but those who dishonoured it with commercialism. That is to say, His only interference with the ritualistic worship of the Temple was to secure it against profane interruption.” (The Parson’s Handbook)

Thus the richness of the church calendar is ever present. I pray that during Advent – we may be penetrated visually by the truth of God’s Word. May the purple of this season remind us of our High Priest and King Lord Jesus. May we be intentional in demonstrating God’s truth in all areas of life, both in the church and in our homes.<>рерайтер копирайтерстатистика ключевых слов в google

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By In Culture

Kirk Cameron is saving Christmas with Douglas Wilson

Kirk Cameron Presents “Saving Christmas”

While Kirk Cameron’s “Left Behind” legacy hit the box office just over a month ago, now featuring Nicholas Cage, Cameron has been busy promoting a different kind of Christian movie. Saving Christmas is Cameron’s big screen attempt to restore our faith in the Christmas season. Cameron’s film hopes to provide,”a biblical basis for our time-honored traditions and celebrations, and the inspiration to stand strongly against a culture that wants to trivialize and eliminate the faith elements of this holy season.” Loaded with the tagline, “Put Christ back in Christmas,” I look forward to seeing what this movie has to offer.

Watch the Theatrical Trailer for Saving Christmas on Youtube. 

The Advent of Doug Wilson

Saving Christmas, which is set to debut on Nov. 14, was recently promoted on a video segment of Doug Wilson’s “ask Doug?” where Kirk revealed that it was Wilson’s writing that motivated the project. “One of the books that had a big influence on what’s in the movie was Doug’s God Rest Ye: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything,” said Cameron.

Watch God Rest Ye Merry | Kirk Cameron and Doug Wilson on Vimeo

Buy “God Rest Ye Merry” Today

Pastor Doug Wilson’s book is essential reading for anyone hoping to understand the profound symbolism found in the Christmas Holiday or who simply want to read about how Santa Claus once punched a man in the face at a church council. As Advent approaches, Wilson’s short book also features a read-aloud meditation and prayer for each day of our Advent season. (Advent season begins on Sunday, November 30, 2014.)

Click here to buy God Rest Ye Merry: Why Christmas is the Foundation for Everything

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