On Sunday, October 29th, we will celebrate the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. We remember on this day that Martin Luther began a process that resulted in the recovery of the biblical gospel. Many congregations will recall the efforts of Martin Luther and will sing his famous hymn based on Psalm 46 entitled “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
When Luther needed encouragement, comfort and strength to face the many afflictions and trials that came upon him, he would frequently go to Psalm 46 for courage.
He himself explains why he would regularly sing Psalm 46 during times of trouble:
“We sing this psalm to the praise of God,
because He is with us
and powerfully and miraculously preserves and defends
His church and His Word
against all fanatical spirits,
against the gates of hell,
against the implacable hatred of the devil,
and against all the assaults of the world, the flesh, and sin.”
“Music is a fair and glorious gift of God.
I would not for the world forego my humble share of music.
Singers are never sorrowful, but are merry,
and smile through their troubles in song.
Music makes people kinder, gentler,
more staid and reasonable.
I am strongly persuaded that after theology
there is no art than can be placed on a level with music;
for besides theology,
music is the only art
capable of affording peace and joy of the heart…
the devil flees before the sound of music
almost as much as before the Word of God.”
Henry David Thoreau, in his classic Walden, sets forth two alternate paths that lie before each of us: One is broad, common and natural. The other is narrow, uncommon and supernatural:
” The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation
and go to the grave with the song still in them.
What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.
A stereotyped but unconscious despair
is concealed under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.
However, I would fain improve every opportunity
to wonder and worship as a sunflower welcomes the light.”
Advent is a season to “improve every opportunity to wonder and worship” our Savior who is Christ the Lord!
God’s vision for His new community – the church.
It is His family which He loves,
His kingdom which He rules
and His temple in which He dwells.
As this reality dawns in our hearts,
we “shall constantly be seeking to make
our church’s worship more authentic,
its fellowship more caring,
and its outreach more compassionate.
In other words, we shall be ready
to pray, to work and if necessary to suffer”
in order to make God’s vision more of a reality in our world. – John Stott
Scripture suffuses every part of our worship services.
We call one another to our awesome task of worshipping God with Scripture.
We sing God’s praise with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs in order to make God’s Word memorable and vivid.
The Spirit uses God’s Word to convict us of sin and to show us our fresh need of His forgiveness and grace.
We use the precious promises of God’s Word to assure us of His pardon.
We give attention to reading His sacred Scriptures because faith comes by hearing the Word of God.
We preach His Word because, through it, God chooses to save and cause some to be spiritually reborn (1 Corinthians 1:21, 1 Peter 1:25).
Also, His Word equips us to live for Christ and to make an impact His kingdom during the perilous times in which we live (2 Timothy 3).
Lastly, God sends us out with His blessing to serve a needy world. This benediction comes from His Word!
Why do we make such a big deal about the Word saturating all of our worship? Because… “All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever” (1 Peter 1:24).
Through the eternal, profitable, inerrant, and living Word of God, we hear and receive “the good news” by which we experience eternal salvation. Therefore, it is imperative that we carefully prepare our hearts to give our undivided attention to His Word when we gather with God’s people to worship Him!