Christmas This week

Christmas This week, two short quotes from C.S. Lewis.

from GOD IN THE DOCK, "The Grand Miracle" -

The Christian story is precisely the story of one grand miracle, the Christian assertion that what is beyond all space and time, what is uncreated, eternal, came into nature, into human nature, descended into His own universe, and rose again, bringing nature up to Him. It is precisely one great miracle. If you take that away there is nothing specifically Christian left.


Just a hurried line . . . to tell a story which puts the contrast between *our* feast of the Nativity and all this ghastly "Xmas" racket at its lowest. My brother heard a woman on a bus say, as the bus passed a church with a Crib outside it, "Oh Lord! They bring religion into everything. Look - they're dragging it even into Christmas now!"

Have a great day. I pray that your Christmas celebration will be not only wonderful, but full of wonder; that it will be not only a holiday, but also a holy day.


To learn more about Chip Stam and his Worship Quote of the Week, click below.

Overwhelmed by Joy

Many of us are in churches that are using an Advent wreath to help focus our worship in these weeks before Christmas. Realizing that there are many different ways of observing this ancient tradition, I don’t want to impose our planning schedule on yours; but our four Advent themes are Repentance, Anticipation, Joy (this week), and Hope. Today’s WORSHIP QUOTE is a personal reflection on Christian joy by poet Ulrich Schaffer.

[WARNING: This is free verse. If you need regular meter and rhyme in order to enjoy poetry, you’ll have to look elsewhere today.]


I experienced it again today.
You were suddenly there
with your surprising presence.

You were suddenly there
without any visible reason, 
without my having done anything, 
without preparation,
without warning.
Suddenly you were there 
with your complete joy,
With the relaxation which emanates from you, 
with the sense you put back into life.

There you are
And I can only smile
At how connected everything is in my life.

I sense your liberation
and I see that you have come to me
as a human being again
and I am happy to live in that realization.

I become strong in this joy.
My life receives a new elasticity
and becomes interesting for others.

but only because this joy
is in contact with you
because all manufactured, drummed-up joy
leaves a great emptiness behind.

But I also know
that this joy
which seems so secure now
can come to an end very quickly.

I don’t want to think about that.

I do want to think about that
because the beginning of joy,
the climax of joy,
and the end of joy
all come from God,

for those who love God.

Then the amazing thing happens:
joy becomes a background
on which my entire life takes place,
a security which allows me
to bear all uncertainty.

A background that is hardly noticeable
yet creates solidity and perspective 
in the picture.

Ulrich Schaffer, “Overwhelmed by Joy,” from GREATER THAN OUR HEARTS: PRAYERS AND REFLECTIONS. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981, pp. 101-103.
ISBN 0-06-067088-6

Let every heart prepare Him room.
Have a great week,

Chip Stam

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

Today's WORSHIP QUOTE is an amazing insight into a familiar advent text.

I suppose that many of you are in churches that sang (or will sing) the great Advent hymn "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." There are seven stanzas to the full text, but in the original version (12th century Latin), the seven verses were meant to be sung at different services on the seven days prior to Christmas Eve, and "our" first verse (O come. O come Emmanuel) was the last one. In Latin, these are known as the GREAT ANTIPHONS or "O" ANTIPHONS, because each one started with the word "O." 

But wait there's more. 

The poet (or poets) who put this together, did an amazing job of weaving in the most delightful hidden message (sort of like playing the record backwards to get hidden meanings).

Here are the beginnings of the verses:

1. O Sapientia (Wisdom from on high) - December 17
2. O Adonai (Lord) - December 18
3. O Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse) - December 19
4. O Clavis David (Key of David) - December 20
5. O Oriens (Dayspring, Light from the East) - December 21
6. O Rex Gentium (King of the Nations) - December 22
7. O Emmanuel (Emmanuel, God with Us) - December 23

What's so special about that?

We'll, there is a wonderful acrostic message build into the structure of the verses. If you take just the first letter of the words that follow the "O" of each verse, you get SARCORE, which means nothing. But if you turn the letters around, you get,

"ERO CRAS," which means "I am tomorrow."

In other words, on December 23, the long-expected Jesus is saying "Tomorrow's my birthday." The various prophetic names used in the text (Key of David, Wisdom from on High, etc.) were selected and ordered in such a way that they pointed to the coming of Messiah. WOW!

Have a great day!

"All Bless the God of Israel" by Jaroslav Vajda c1989

For the upcoming first Sunday of ADVENT, the WQOTW is an advent poem.

ALL BLESS THE GOD OF ISRAEL by Jaroslav Vajda c1989
from *SO MUCH TO SING ABOUT* (Morningstar Publishers 1991)

All bless the God of Israel
for promising Immanuel:
from Abraham, a man like us,
from God, divine and glorious:
someone to share our every woe,
someone to conquer every foe.

All praise the God of Israel
for sending us Immanuel,
to do what God had sworn He would,
what only the Messiah could:
live, die, and rise, and clear the path
to life from certain, endless wrath.

All thank the God of Israel
for being our Immanuel,
whose Spirit opens eyes to see
the Word, the Truth, that makes us free
to live unfettered by our fears, 
to serve our Savior all our years.

All bless the Lord, the God of all,
for Christ, our great Immanuel!
Come, welcome David's greater Son
with Zechariah and with John,
and, living, prove our gratitude
to be the Israel of God.

Based on Luke 1:67-79, the Song of Zechariah.
Can be sung to "Veni, Immanuel" ("O Come, O Come, Immanuel").

Have a great week,