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The Meaning of Liturgy

The Meaning of Liturgy

Liturgy is grounded in acts. Every act leads to another act. In liturgy, skipping to a meal before be- ing cleansed (washing of hands) is improper. Liturgy requires table manners. The liturgy shapes us. The word “liturgy” itself refers to the “work of the people.” Theologically, however, what happens in worship in the gathered assembly is not so much our work, but “the continuation of the service of the ascended Lord Jesus for his people.” a We can say that liturgy is the work of God on our behalf, or as theologian Jeff Meyers puts it, “It is God’s service to us.”

The Trinitarian Father

  1. Meyers, Jeff. The Lord’s Service: The Grace of Covenant Renewal Worship ( Canon Press:Moscow, ID.; 2003) 100.  (back)
Do you love Jesus? An Eucharistic invitation

Do you love Jesus? An Eucharistic invitation

“Because of the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord.” (Phil. 3:8)

The worth of knowing Messiah as Lord is greater than any human deed. Nothing is compared to this relational, covenantal union we have with our Lord.

This reminds me of the story my mentor once told me of a bright seminary graduate who came before examination by the examining committee. He sat there at his desk full of confidence. His Greek New Testament and Hebrew Bible were wide open. He had passed his written exams with flying colors. The entire presbytery was eager to hear this genius relate the glories of theology in intricate ways. The examination began when an old seminary professor who was about to retire looked at the candidate and asked: “Young man, do you love Jesus?” Silence. More silence. Now the young scholar’s face turned into every imaginable color. Then more silence.

The old professor looked to the head of the examining committee and proposed that the examination be terminated and that the young man return again in six months. All agreed.

Brothers and sisters, as you come to eat and drink with one another, do not allow that simple question to be answered by your silence. Come and dine that your answer might be strengthened and not silenced.

Interview at Trinity Talk on my new book “The Trinitarian Father”

Interview at Trinity Talk on my new book “The Trinitarian Father”

The Trinitarian Father: An Interview with Uri Brito

On this episode, Jarrod Richie interviews co-host, Uri Brito, on his new book The Trinitarian Father. Pastor Brito gives an overview of the book as well as tell us what readers should expect as they begin to read the book.

Purchase The Trinitarian Father here or e-mail uriesou@gmail.com.

Sermon quotes on Philippians

Sermon quotes on Philippians

Jesus and Paul are not criticizing the Pharisees because they kept Moses’ law so perfectly. No, they were criticizing them because they perverted the law of Moses so violently. a

  1. Sermon Notes on Philippians 3  (back)
How to Treat Abusers

How to Treat Abusers

Jeff Crippen over at a Cry for Justice  does good work in reminding pastors and counselors once again how not to treat abused victims. In elaborating on I Samuel 17, Jeff uses the illustration of David and Goliath to make a crucial point:

My point is that this far too common business of Christians telling abuse victims that they must not ever raise their voices to their abuser, that they must speak kindly to them always, that they must endure suffering and patiently await that big day when Goliath gets born again — this business has to stop. Stern stuff is quite appropriate: calling the police, leaving, divorcing, drawing firm boundaries, getting restraining orders, exposing the abuser for what he is to his church.

Pastors have for far too long offered a haven for abusers while leaving the victim exposed, terrified, and hopeless.

Another Review of The Trinitarian Father by Kevin Johnson

Another Review of The Trinitarian Father by Kevin Johnson

Uri Brito establishes his point at the outset and drives it home throughout the book: Earthly fathers are to imitate God the Father. And this only makes sense because the God of heaven and earth is Triune. He doesn’t exercise his will and display his attributes in a vacuum. He is a culture. He is a civilization. He is a family. He is a Father to an actual Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are made in that image.

Every chapter is anchored by and revolves around Scripture. Uri takes us from the Garden to the Gospel – the Gospel that turns the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. We see in Genesis that God is a benevolent Father, preparing Adam for blessing and life. Isaiah reminds us that we are worshipers and imitators at our core. We will become what we worship. Solomon reminds us of our royalty. Every father will equip his son to rule – to be a dawning sun on a cloudless morning or to be smoke in the eyes. Luke gives us Wisdom made flesh. The Son of man increasing in wisdom and stature. Our sons, if we are like The Father, will be like The Son.

The Trinitarian Father is a great introduction to the topic of fatherhood. It teases the appetite. While it is a short work, the author has managed to cover a lot of ground. Uri’s brevity is adorned with great depth. Almost every sentence could be (and should be!) put on an index card for routine reflection. The book sets forth both a theological framework for fatherhood and practical hooks upon which every father would do well to hang his cap.

The Trinitarian Father makes you think; it brings you back to Scripture; it convicts you; it will make you shift in your chair. Ultimately, the book calls you to look into the heavens, see your Father, and remember that he’s done for you all that He requires of you. I heartily recommend this book. –Kevin Johnson

Purchase a copy by e-mailing the author at uriesou@gmail.com.

Shortest Service Ever? Not really.

Shortest Service Ever? Not really.

When I was a kid–in the early 90’s–I remember Brazil going to the volleyball Olympics Finals against Holland. We had a dream team. In those days Brazil was not known as the volleyball powerhouse it is today. My father, a Baptist minister, had to make a decision. In some parts of Brazil, churches meet in the morning for Sunday School and re-gather at evening for the main service. Such was our situation. The problem was Sunday School started precisely at the start of the final match. My father cancelled Sunday School. Fortunately, Brazil won, otherwise his parishioners would have attributed our defeat to God’s curse on the minister. I never forgot that Sunday. Of course, we gathered as usual in the evening and the worship was grand.

The corporate gathering is far more significant to a Sunday School class, though SS is an important learning time for the body. My father later regretted his decision.

In the years following I have seen churches cancel Sunday Worship for all sorts of reasons: Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. There are legitimate reasons to do so, especially if you live in Florida as I do during hurricane season.

Almost twenty years later, I am following in my father’s footsteps as a minister. I could not imagine a Sunday without worship. I even edited a book entitled The Church Friendly Family encouraging individual families to see the primacy of worship and the church in their lives.

And then I heard of this.

My first reaction was one of frustration. “Here I am trying to establish a grand vision of worship to my people and this Lutheran–of all people–decides to allow his football passion to trivialize the worship of the most high God.” Anyone who knows me knows that I have a special affection for Lutherans. One of my best friends is a Lutheran minister. So when this Lutheran fellow summarized the entire divine liturgy into a minute I felt betrayed. The dilemma was described this way:

“Pastor Tim Christensen, of Butte, Mont., found himself with that dilemma during his 11am service on Sunday. With just minutes before kickoff between his 49ers and the Panthers, he decided to condense his service.”a

The video got a tremendous amount of publicity nation-wide. But this fine good-humored pastor did not betray the congregation. When discovering the tremendous publicity the video received he said humorously remarked:

“The one thing about the video I hate is I look incredibly fat, but I’m wearing a large double-pocketed hoodie underneath.” b

The 53-year-old acted honorably as a Lutheran minister and returned to the sanctuary after his trick play and conducted the standard hour-long service. “He said some members offered to give him updates, but the pastor had the game set on his DVR and he watched it in its entirety – including pregame – when he got home. He was rewarded with a 23-10 victory.” c

Though I find the excessive use of sports’ references on Sunday morning disturbing, I give this fellow minister a standard Christian greeting: the Lord bless you.

  1. http://www.dailydot.com/lol/football-shortest-service-49ers-pastor-playoff/  (back)
  2. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/video-pastor-conducts-quick-service-catch-49ers-game-article-1.1579092#ixzz2qmBpt2xt  (back)
  3. Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/video-pastor-conducts-quick-service-catch-49ers-game-article-1.1579092#ixzz2qmC2c5xD  (back)
Weekly Summary, Auburn Avenue Presbyterian

Weekly Summary, Auburn Avenue Presbyterian

It was a long, but profitable past week. On the 6th of January, I made my annual pilgrimage to Auburn Avenue Presbyterian in Monroe, LA for their pastor’s conference. The conference was terrific. It was great to see old friends and meet new ones at the conference. The conference, known in some circles for its controversial topics and speakers, really has become a bunch of friends who enjoy getting together to talk theology.

My little book, The Trinitarian Father, made its public debut at the conference. I think it sold quite well as my smile indicates.

To me, as I have mentioned to many, the best part of the conference is truly the singing and the profound community life you experience when you join those brothers and sisters. It is hard to stress how gracious and hospitable these folks are. The beer flows, the conversations abound, and the joy is full.

You can download the conference talks here.

I flew from there to Tampa Bay, Fl where I had the opportunity to visit my friends at Clearwater Christian College. I graduated from CCC in 2003, but still have maintained some good contacts with the school. I met with their new president, Jack Klem. Jack is a terrifically bright fellow with a robust vision of the Christian faith. CCC is in good hands.

Photo: Wonderful to see these brothers and minister to the saints in word and sacrament at Christ Church, LakelandI then went to Lakeland where I ministered to the saints of Christ Church. Christ Church is a mission church of the CREC and under the care of Providence Church in Pensacola, FL. It is a joyful little church. I encourage you to stop by if you are in the Orlando/Lakeland area. I spoke on the subject of biblical hospitality and answered some questions after the service on how more specifically to implement this Christian duty. We then feasted, drank wine, and sang together.

I lost my wallet the first day I arrived. My luggage was one day delayed. Two of my flights were delayed, which incidentally led me to miss the following flight. But overall, a fruitful trip. Shalom.

 

Three Reasons Why We Gather for Worship

Three Reasons Why We Gather for Worship

Why do we gather on the Lord’s Day?

First, we gather because forsaking this gathering is not an option (Heb. 10:25). We are very familiar with the exhortation not to forsake the assembly, but we often overlook why forsaking Sunday worship is so detrimental. According to Hebrews 10:24 when we miss worship we miss God’s appointed place to stir one another up to love and good works and offer mutual encouragement.

Secondly, we gather because we war against the forces of evil. “What are those Christians doing in that little building on Sunday morning? What a waste!” the opponents of the Triune God say. But little do they know that we gather to conspire against them! We are gathered this morning to be cleansed and to be instructed in God’s authoritative war manual, the holy Bible. And unlike those who are blinded to God’s plans in the world, we have our eyes opened by the Spirit.

Finally, we are here because the Spirit of God gathered us together. Just as he hovered over creation, he hovers over us creating in us a vision for worship and dominion. But we are not sufficient in and of ourselves. We cannot change the world apart from the Spirit, and for this reason the Spirit puts us here, so the Father can bless us and the Son feed us.

The Optimism of Christmas Carols

The Optimism of Christmas Carols

Grace, Mercy, and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

You may have noticed this point, but if not, I’d be glad to make it known this morning. Have you noticed the optimistic nature of Christmas hymns? A few examples will suffice:[1]

The very famous Isaac Watts Joy to the World! which says:

No more let sins and sorrows grow,
Nor thorns infest the ground;
He comes to make His blessings flow,
Far as the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove,
The glories of His righteousness,
And wonders of His love.

R.J. Rushdoony commented on this hymn when he wrote:

“The Christian religion is a faith of ultimate victory, where the very gates of hell cannot prevail against Christ and His chosen people (Matt. 16:18).”

Another great optimistic hymn is: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day,” which says:

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep,
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep.
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With Peace On Earth, Good Will To Man.

Or the language of Isaiah 11 is made clear in that famous hymn: “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear”, where the final verse boldly rejoices:

For lo, the days are hast’ning on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of Gold,
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendor fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

“Hark! the Harold Angels Sing”, also joins in with the testimony of carols to the Kingship of Christ:

Joyful, all ye nations rise,
Join the triumph of the skies,
With angelic host proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

The tidings of great joy are not good feelings during the Christmas Season; the tidings of great joy are comfort and joy to the world. This is what animated these hymn writers as they echoed the biblical message. And this is what exhorts us to sing loudly and confidently the words of the incarnation. “Give ye heed to what we say: Jesus Christ is born today…calls you one and calls you all to gain His everlasting hall.”



[1] Mainly taken from Rushdoony’s piece found here: http://bluebannermedia.com/the-postmillennial-character-of-christmas-carols/