Friday, December 16, 2011

Friday in Advent 3: Worthy is the Lamb!

Opening Sentence
In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3

Collect of the Day
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 40, 54

Lessons: Zechariah 7:8-8:8, Revelation 5:6-14, Matthew 25:14-30

For all of its bizarre imagery, Revelation is, from start to finish, a book of worship; the liturgy of the New Heaven and the New Earth. It cannot be understood outside that context. It is not a book of doom and gloom or death and destruction, at least not for those who have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. It is a vision of the church doing what God created it to do for all eternity: worship and praise his holy Name!

"Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" shouts the great throng around the throne of God. This is sevenfold praise: complete, full, and perfect adoration of Christ the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world. It is the eternal proclamation that Christ -- the Lamb that was slain -- has won the victory and is worthy of all the praise and adoration that is due him. All these things belong to him but, even so, he gave up himself willingly and was slain for the redemption of the world. That is all the more reason for true worshipers on earth to join with every voice in heaven to proclaim, "Worthy is the Lamb!"

Every created thing in heaven and on earth -- the four living creatures surrounding the throne representing the whole created order, and the 24 elders representing the whole of God's covenant people -- are united together in a continuous act of adoration and praise. Worship is a continuous, active, and vocal response to the mighty and gracious acts of God in Jesus Christ; the highest service to be rendered to him who is eternally Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The throne of God is not just a lofty perch upon which God gazes down on us from heaven. Jesus Christ, the perfect Lamb of God, has died and risen again. Therefore, the door into heaven is standing open (Revelation 4:1). The worshiping community is in the presence of Christ, and Christ is present in its midst, even when the visible surroundings bear no resemblance to those of the great heavenly throng.

True and genuine worship is an attitude of the heart; an inner posture of yieldedness to the God who is, who was, and who is to come. It is the attitude expressed by the elders who "fell down and worshipped." Falling down is the posture of yieldedness, willingly submitting to the one true, eternal, and triune God whose purpose is accomplished through the death of the Lamb. Worshiping before the throne of God, believers participate in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. They become partakers in the suffering and the tribulation that is bound to take place when they take a stand for Christ in the midst of a rebellious world. To proclaim with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain!" is to ascribe ultimate majesty and worth to the God whose great purpose is accomplished through being slain.

Through all the suffering, the true worshipers own the ultimate victory. Having died with Christ, they have also been raised with him to life eternal. They have already experienced the worst the world can inflict upon them. While the present, visible surroundings may appear to be no different than before -- still there are the scoffers, the persecutors, those who ridicule the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ -- true worshipers know that all around them, though not visible to the human eye, is the great multitude around the throne. True worshipers walk every day in the presence of God. They are a part of the great throng of every creature in heaven and on earth, continually proclaiming, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever!"


Worthy is the Lamb/Hallelujah (from The New Young Messiah)