From Messiah, here again is one of my favorite performances of “And the Glory of the Lord”, performed by the Bow Valley Chorus of Canada.
From Faith and Life: Readings compiled from ancient writers, here again is an excerpt from John Chrysostom:
What is it which will enable us to retain fear continually? A constant attention to the Scriptures. For if the mere sight of a corpse has such a tendency to control our thoughts, how much more Hell and the fire that is not quenched, how much more the worm that dieth not? If we are always keeping hell before our minds, we shall not readily fall into it. For this cause it is that God has threatened men with punishment; since unless the consideration of it involved some great advantage, He would not have threatened us with it; but seeing that the remembrance of it is effectual towards great advancement in religious life, therefore did He fix the menace of it in our souls, as it were some salutary medicine. Let us not, then, neglect the great advantage thence derived, but continually turn it over in our thoughts, even at our daily meals. Are you afraid of the words, as painful to hear? Ah! but does your silence about hell quench it? does your speaking of it kindle it? Whether you speak of it or not, that fire will burn fiercely: speak of it habitually, that you may never fall into it. It is impossible that a soul which is anxious about Hell should lightly commit sin; for hear that best of all advice, “Remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.” To despise a threat is a great evil; he that does so will speedily experience its reality. Nothing is so profitable as to discourse about Hell; it makes our souls purer than silver. For hear the Prophet saying, “Thy judgments are always before me.” And Christ continually discourses about it. For if it pains the hearer, still it does him the greatest good.There are many men who cherish good hope, not on the ground of avoiding sin, but of thinking that Hell is not so intense as it is said to be, but milder than the threatenings describe it, and temporary instead of eternal; and on this subject they speculate at large. However, I could bring many proofs that instead of being milder than it is described, it is even much more intense, and could infer this from the very words which mention it. But that it is not temporary, we may learn from Paul saying in this passage about those “who know not God, and believe not the Gospel,” that they “shall be punished with eternal destruction.” How then can what is eternal be temporary!–St. Chrysostom on Thess., Hom. ii. iii.
John Chrysostom was certainly no believer in a temporary punishment for the wicked, and I think his words should be heeded.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the always-edifying Lent and Beyond: An Anglican Prayer Blog’s tremendous list of Advent devotionals and other resources. They are one of the absolutely essential blogs to visit this time of year – and any time of year, for that matter – you will find something that speaks to you there!
Here again is Orquesta y Coro Ad Libitum from Spain, with their renditions of the second and third pieces from Messiah, “Comfort Ye My People” and “Ev’ry Valley”:
Again from Faith and Life: Readings compiled from ancient writers, comes this excerpt from St. Basil:
II. THE SECOND ADVENT.
Picture in your thoughts that final catastrophe of the life of all men, when the Son of God will come in His glory with His angels. For “He will come, and will not keep silence;” that is, when He will come to judge the quick and the dead, and to render to every man according to his work; when that trumpet with its great and terrible sound will awaken those who have slept since the world began, and they will “come forth, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of condemnation.” Remember the heaven-sent vision of Daniel, how it brings the judgment before our eyes. “I beheld,” he says, “until thrones were set, and the Ancient of days did sit; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like pure wool, and his wheels a burning fire. A river of fire was rolling before Him. Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him; a judgment was set, and books were opened;” books openly unfolded, things good, things bad, things manifest, things hidden, acts, words, thoughts, all things at once, so as to be heard by all, both men and angels. And those who have led evil lives, with what feeling must they needs face all this? Where then will their soul hide itself, when, filled with shame, it is suddenly exposed to the gaze of so many beholders? How will their bodies endure those endless and intolerable plagues, where are fire unquenchable, and the ceaselessly punishing worm, and the dark and horrible pit of Hades, and bitter wailings, and extreme lamentations, and weeping and gnashing of teeth?—and these horrors have no end. From these there comes no relief with death, nor is there any device or method of escaping that bitter punishment. We are able to avoid it now. While we are able, let us raise ourselves up from our fall, and not despair of ourselves if we depart from evil. “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” The Word, calling us to repentance, cries aloud, “Come unto Me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will refresh you.” There is then a way of salvation, if we choose to be saved.
–St Basil, Epistle xlvi.
We are able to avoid this now, and there is a way of salvation, if we choose to be saved.
This being the First Sunday in Advent, here again is a passage from Augustine of Hippo, on the Two Comings of Christ. This comes from the book Faith and Life: readings compiled from ancient writers, by W. Bright, that I have mentioned before.
I. THE TWO COMINGS OF CHRIST.
Our Lord Jesus has been prophesied of in this Psalm, wherein we have heard and sung, “God will come manifested, our God, and will not keep silence’.” For the Lord Christ Himself, our God, the Son of God, in His first Advent came hidden, in His second will come manifested. When He came hidden, He was known only to His own servants; when He will come manifested, He will be known both to good and bad. When He came hidden, He came to be judged; when He will come manifested, He will come to judge. Lastly, when at that time He was judged, He kept silence; and of His silence the prophet had foretold, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before its shearer, so He opened not His mouth.” But He will not be silent when He is to judge, as He was when He was to be judged. Even now, if there is any one to listen, He is not silent; but, it is said, then “He will not keep silence,” when even those who now contemn His voice shall recognize it. But even now every one ought to observe that God, when He pleases, looks on things and judges them, and does not delay judgment for an hour; and, again, when He pleases, He does delay it. Why is this? Because if He were to judge nothing now, He would not be believed to be God; if He were to judge every thing now, He would reserve nothing for the judgment. For to this end are many things reserved for the judgment and some things judged at present, that they whose cases are deferred may fear, and be converted. For God does not love to condemn, but to save; and the reason why He is patient with bad men is that He may change them into good ones.
–St. Augustine, Sermon xviii.
This Advent, let us thank Him for His long-suffering patience towards us – exemplified in the coming of His Son, which we remember in this season.
As is our tradition on this blog, for Advent we feature music from Handel’s Messiah. Here performing the Sinfonia from Messiah is the Orquesta y Coro ad Libitum from Spain, an ensemble for whom I have great respect.
From commentator Bill Whittle comes this latest in his Your Government series, a video on the issue of health care. In this installment of the series, Bill Whittle explains “why a two-cent aspirin pill costs $20, and how we can replace the waste and inefficiencies of our present system with one that empowers patients to use their own money, just as if it were… their own money.”
Here is a thoughtful audio sermon on the subject of worship, titled Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees, by the Rev. Charles Roberts of Ballston Center ARP Church in New York. In this message, he speaks on Zechariah 7:1-10 and gives us his perspective on what God wants from us for worship. He makes some excellent points:
- Proper worship is directed towards God…are we focused on Him, or on ourselves? Is our church service focused more on entertaining ourselves than on worshiping God?
- Proper worship cannot be separated from our lives…does our worship in the context of our lives raise a pleasing aroma to the Lord?
- Proper worship requires that we give God our very best. He mentions Malachi 1:6-11 here: do we offer the best we have to the Lord?
As usual I commend this sermon by Rev. Roberts to you.