Christ


[Please note: this article is a follow-up to last week’s. I have been posting to coincide with weekly sermons at FBC Mulberry Grove, and due to a slipping accident, a dear friend preached in my stead last Sunday. To provide continuity, I will be preaching “All Things through Christ” from Philippians 4 that I had planned for Jan. 15. This article is related to that message (as was last week’s post).]

As I have paid attention to our national history being made this week with the instatement of our 45th president, it dawned on me that as divisive and derisive as our nation’s politics has become, neither our outgoing leader nor our incoming administrator has the capability of “saving” our country—not even from ourselves.

Regardless of my ideology, or your theology, our true help comes from a place of higher standards, a Person of higher power. If this life is to find meaning; if the tough questions are to be answered; if any good is to ever be seen on this or the other side of eternity, our hope must find this higher resting place: God Almighty.

So many things are out of our reach; so many goals unattainable; so many dreams unachievable. And then there is Jesus. As we step out into the unknown thing we call “future” let us hold a firm grasp in the hand that holds more firmly onto us. Trust in Jesus for a future. Trust in God to be your Guide.

  “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Jesus, in answer to the question, “Who can be saved?” Luke 18:27

[There is a message that is centered on Christ Jesus. It is the same today as it was 2000 years ago. It will continue to be the same 2000 years hence. What is my role as a Christian and a pastor in this ever-changing, always-corrupt world in which we live? To make that message known, to make the message clear, to shine a spotlight on the relevance of Jesus Christ to every age.]

As a high school senior, I was assigned to memorize the preamble to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in old English. Although it was English it looked and sounded like gibberish to me. Reading and reciting the words meant nothing to me—just like my dad’s toolbox. Today we should make the message make sense for those around us to hear and understand.

When I was growing up, I thought that my dad could do anything. And rarely was I ever disappointed when I asked him for help or even just to do something for me. He was what many people would call a “jack of all trades.” He could figure things out; he could make things work; he could take things apart and put them back together again. He just knew stuff.

While I have not inherited his ability to work on machinery, and I don’t often have the patience to try and figure out how something works, I can take a lesson from my father’s life. That lesson is: do what is necessary. As we walk through this world living our Christian lives, it is important for us to figure out how to make the message plain for the world to hear.

In our world today, people are not hearing the Word of God, not because the Word is no longer relevant, but because we’ve packaged the Word in a way that does not get through.

  “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”  – Hebrews 13:8

I would like to take a moment to wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas!

The word “Majesty” carries with it a lot of weight. In monarchies the king and queen are referred to as “Your Majesty.” Webster defines the word as “sovereign power, authority, or dignity.” When we look at a beautiful sunrise or sunset, or at a panoramic view of the beauty contained only in nature, we describe it with the term “majestic.”

And so, as we think of the event of Christmas on this Christmas Day isn’t majesty just the right word? Consider the Baby born in a manger, tucked away where no one would see Him. And then His very birth is announced out in the countryside to a group of unlikely witnesses:  shepherds, just going about their routine duty. So majestic was the announcement that they abandoned their duty (most likely a capital offense) and not only rushed to see the sight, but also spread the word throughout the rest of the night as they traveled to and from Bethlehem. Majesty!

And to top off the whole picture, we see wise men, sages from a far away land, arriving in a caravan shortly after the birth to present this One they recognize as a new King with gifts fit only for One of great majesty. And to think that we still celebrate all of these centuries later. That is Majesty!

  “And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  – Isaiah 9:6b

I like a good, sturdy umbrella, don’t you? Umbrellas have a specific job to do, and if they are built well they do that job nicely. They keep the rain from crashing down on me, and I don’t have to stay inside all the time.

I have discovered, though, that if you are going to purchase an umbrella, it is worth your while to fork over a little bit extra and purchase a well-made one rather than try to save a buck on the cheap ones. You know the ones: they “conveniently” fold up into a tiny size that fits neatly in the pocket or purse. What I found out about these collapsible models is that they are easily left behind and lost, whereas we never leave behind an expensive model that is big enough to use as a club if necessary. Most of the cheap umbrellas I have owned didn’t provide very good protection from the elements anyway—one big gust of wind and they flip inside-out  and let all the rain in. I prefer the Mary Poppins variety of umbrella that could carry me off in a strong windstorm.

God is a sturdy umbrella. He is portable enough to stay with us everywhere we go, and strong enough to protect us from all the elements of any storm.

 “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.” (Proverbs 18:10)

When my daughter was a preschooler she was accustomed to having a nightlight burning in her room at night when she slept. There is a measure of comfort to know that the light is burning. Occasionally the bulb in the nightlight would burn out. For my daughter it was a frightening experience when this happened at night-time. If she awoke and the light was not there she called out to let me know that something was wrong. By replacing the bulb, fears are calmed and the whole household can return to sleep.

Jesus tells us that he himself is the light of the world. Without this light, we cannot see, we cannot find comfort. With the light of Christ we are comforted and we can enjoy life calmly. The light was first introduced into the world at the first Christmas. Today, Christ-followers carry the light of Jesus in their spirits. While the light will not burn out (like a nightlight’s bulb), we must let it shine out through the things that we do, and the way that we live.

This is the message of Christmas—Let your light shine!

Probably the best part of Advent Season is the Advent–the Coming–of the Christ (the Anointed One).

He is the One whose advent was told about hundreds of years before it happened. Isaiah said, “a virgin shall conceive” and she did!

He is the One whose coming is an advantage for all the world and the basis for the ADVENTure that is the life of Christendom.

He is the One whose appearance on our planet changed calendars, societies and hearts. And this from the very night of His birth–this night. And so I can say, “Merry Christmas” and sing with the whos down in Woodville, “Welcome Christmas, Christmas Day.”

And most of all we can welcome Jesus. Will you join me this Christmas in welcoming Jesus into your heart, your home, your highways and byways and plans?

Translated from German (c. 1800) by Edward Caswall (1814-1878)

Also included in The Broadman Hymnal, 1940 edition, Broadman Press, Nashville, #7; Voice of Praise, Broadman Press, Nashville, 1947, #127; The Baptist Hymnal, 1975 edition, Convention Press, Nashville, #44; 1991 edition, Convention Press, Nashville, #221; 2008 edition, LifeWay, Nashville, #141; Inspiring Hymns, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1951, #1 (entitled “May Jesus Christ Be Praised”); Favorite Hymns of Praise, Tabernacle, Chicago, 1967, #1; The Hymnal for Worship & Praise, Word, Waco, 1986, #87; The Celebration Hymnal, Word, Waco, 1997, #215.

As you can tell by a simple glance, the poem which provides the words for this hymn is much lengthier than provided for in most hymnals. Some more recent hymnals credit a separate third verse (“Ye nations of mankind, In this your concord find:/May Jesus Christ be praised!/Let all the earth around Ring joyous with the sound:/May Jesus Christ be praised!”) to Robert Bridges when he included the hymn in an 1899 hymnal. Hymnal editors have included various stanzas from the original as well: Broadman and VoP – 1, 5, ll. 1&2 of 14 + ll. 3&4 of 10, & 15 (with minor changes to line 3); BH 1975, 1991, & 2008 – 1, 10, Bridges above, 14; Inspiring Hymns and Favorite Hymns – 1, 9, 5, ll. 1&2 of 14 + ll. 3&4 of 10, 15; The Hymnal – 1, 5, 10, Bridges above, 13, 15; Celebration – 1, 10, Bridges above, 15.

The Hymn

  1. When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  2. When you begin the day, O never fail to say,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    And at your work rejoice, to sing with heart and voice,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  3. Whene’er the sweet church bell peals over hill and dell,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    O hark to what it sings, as joyously it rings,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  4. My tongue shall never tire of chanting with the choir,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    This song of sacred joy, it never seems to cloy,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  5. Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  6. To God, the Word, on high, the host of angels cry,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Let mortals, too, upraise their voice in hymns of praise,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  7. Be this at meals your grace, in every time and place;
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Be this, when day is past, of all your thoughts the last
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  8. When mirth for music longs, this is my song of songs:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    When evening shadows fall, this rings my curfew call,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  9. When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  10. The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  11. No lovelier antiphon in all high Heav’n is known
    Than, Jesus Christ be praised!
    There to the eternal Word the eternal psalm is heard:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  12. Let all the earth around ring joyous with the sound:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    In Heaven’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  13. Sing, suns and stars of space, sing, ye that see His face,
    Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
    God’s whole creation o’er, for aye and evermore
    Shall Jesus Christ be praised!
  14. In Heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Let earth, and sea and sky from depth to height reply,
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
  15. Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!
    Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
    May Jesus Christ be praised!

(Hymn words accessed at CyberHymnal) Stanzas included in our study hymnal are indicated with bold print.

Scriptural Connection

There are a variety of Psalms offered as connections to the Scripture for this hymn. One hymnal suggests Revelation 5 as a connection because of the praise to Christ offered in both the Bible passage and the hymn. One expert also turned us to Romans 9:5 in that verse’s praise of Christ as God over all. Any of these would be appropriate. I would lean more toward the New Testament connections because of the refrain of the hymn: “May Jesus Christ be praised!”

What does it mean?

This particular hymn is directly a call to praise Christ. All of the stanzas include the refrain over and over to praise Jesus Christ. The interspersed lines give us the reasons and the timing to do such praise. At work, at prayer, in happy occasions and fearful ones. Always run to Jesus (“to Jesus I repair”) in all occasions and in every moment and as you do so give Him praise.

This hymn, while unfamiliar to me from my developmental years, has quite a respect among hymnists—and well it should. This is a hymn, regardless of the stanzas chosen to sing, which points all worshipers to the One who is worthy of our praise. We can praise Him no matter the time of day, the activity in which we are engaged, or the circumstances which touch our lives.

“May Jesus Christ be praised!”

*Hymn numbers for this series’ titles are from the Baptist Hymnal, 1956 edition, Nashville, Convention Press.

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