Posted on Tue, Dec 15, 2015
December 13, 2015
6th Sunday of Advent – “Sermon in Word and Song”
“And the Glory of the Lord”
“Glory” is a difficult word to fully appreciate these days. Nowadays, the meaning has been diluted with so many different pieces of music and art, that the meaning seems to only convey things like power, majesty, or some kind of Lordship. Sometimes these definitions are good and helpful, but the word comes from the Hebrew word, “Kabod” or “Kafad,” (“Kavod”) which means, “Weight” or “Importance.”
The importance and weight of the meaning of Christmas can never be reduced to a tradition of merely being a time for people to spend too much money on gift giving, food and drink. When I explain the meaning of “Glory” to new members of our church, I show them a picture of Jesus on the cross and remind them that this is the place where we see most clearly the “glory” of God; The most weighty and important moment in all of history. The Glory of God was witnessed by the same crowd that on one day welcomed Jesus with, “Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” and then the next day with the encouragement of the religious leaders, they call out for his blood by screaming, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” And then, Jesus gives his life in obedience to the promise proclaimed by the prophets of old, fulfilling the promise of God forgiving our sins through the blood of a spotless lamb. This unconditional and undeserving love, is most certainly, the “Glory” of God.
When the Word, the Promise of God becomes flesh and is revealed to the shepherds, the magi, and other low members of society, it is not just a mere baby that is seen, but the Glory of God is revealed.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.
And all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
“O Thou that Tellest Good Tidings to Zion” - Isaiah 40:9
In the days of Isaiah the people only saw kingdoms come and go. Nothing was forever, not even the kingdoms,’ which wielded great power over the people with brute force and cruelty. Even the people of Israel saw this and there was sorrow and fear that even the fate of their nation may be the same, like the grass or flower of the field.
6 A voice says, ‘Cry out!’
And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All people are grass,
their constancy is like the flower of the field.
But even during this apparently hopeless situation, the prophets CRY out “The word of our God stands forever!”
9 Get you up to a high mountain,
O Zion, herald of good tidings;*
lift up your voice with strength,
O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings,*
lift it up, do not fear;
say to the cities of Judah,
‘Here is your God!’
The Word of God abides and does not return to God void, but accomplishes the purpose for which God sends it out. The word of God is spoken is a new word of “Comfort!” and it is directed to the people as they return to Jerusalem broken and distroyed. Zion is called upon to bring to the cities of Judah the glad tidings, “Behold, Here comes your God!”
O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain!
O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, left up thy voice with strength,
lift it up, be not afraid! Say unto the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!”
O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, arise, shine, for thy light is come,
and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
“For Unto Us a Child is Born”
The exile is over for the People of Israel, it is time for the people of God to return home to the place of King David and their temple. If there is anything they desire, it is to know that they are home in the place where God has meant them to be and blessed them in the past; And their prayer is that their nation will once again continue to live within the Blessing and Presence of God. The prophets begin to speak, and it is clear that from the throne on which David sat, a new and divine yet human King will be born. The newly founded kingdom of David will remain unshaken during His reign and forevermore, and no one person or power will disrupt the peace and hope offered by the Child King because the foundation of the throne for the new king is justice and righteousness.
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.
“Glory to God”
I am reminded of the time God says to Moses in Exodus 3:7-8, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”
Glory is the truth that God has heard our cries, our pleas, our prayers, and has acted with an action beyond our understanding or knowledge, God has entered our world as a defenseless child yet at the same time still the Creator of the Cosmos, in order to save us from our brokenness and transform us into beacons of light and hope to comfort all the world.
When God gives us God’s glory, God gives to us God’s very own Self. God cannot parcel Gods’ self out in pieces - no one receives only a portion of God’s blessing, but all of God’s righteousness. The one who receives Gods’ love also receives Gods’ mercy, God’s holiness, righteousness and strength. The one who receives mercy also gets God’s love and all else that is the fullness of God.
That is the glory of God - that God gives freely of Gods’ full self and in this there is the fullness of God’s love, joy and righteousness. And those who seek the glory of God must learn that God truly desires to give God’s self to us, which means God wants us to enjoy fullness, freedom and joy beyond human understanding.
“Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth, good will towards men.”
“Hallelujah” is a word known worldwide, but honestly we don’t really know exactly what it means. Therefore, if we are going to use this word, it would be wise to use it rightly.
In Hebrew, it means, “Praise the Lord.”
It is made up of two Hebrew words put together found mostly in the Psalms and Revelation. “Hallel,” means to praise, to boast in, to shine forth, to be worthy of praise, and to be commended. “Jah” is a shortened form of “Jehovah,“ which means the Self-Existent and Eternal One. Jehovah is the name of the LORD, which emphasizes that God Almighty has no beginning or end. God always has been and will always be LORD God Almighty. When we sing or cry out “Hallelujah” we are proclaiming that there is nothing greater than our God of mercy and grace. There simply is none greater.
The word is for the purpose is liturgical exhortation, or better yet, to help the congregation during worship to offer and express the gift of joy, especially for the Jews a time to give thanks for being released from slavery in Egypt, and for the Christians to proclaim joy for being freed from the slavery of sin and death.
When we put the two words together, we are praising the LORD with all our being, because God alone is worthy of being praised for all the great things God will accomplish through the Birth we prepare to celebrate during our Advent journey. When we see the Greek form of the word mostly in the New Testament, we simply drop the “H” and we will see “Alleluia.“ It means the very same thing.
In celebration for the words of the prophets, the obedience of Mary and for the Glory of God we will see in the Babe, let our lives be a prayer of praise, actions proclaiming, Hallelujah!
Hallelujah! for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.
The kingdom of this world is to become the kingdom of our Lord
and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. Hallelujah!
King of Kings, and Lord of Lord, and he shall reign forever and ever.
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