Here we are again, right in the midst of Advent. No preacher-poet can compare to Donne. John Donne sees the divine hand of providence through the deadly haze of pandemic. If the plague was a subject for his spiritual contemplations and Sunday sermons, how much more the sacred seasons of our lives? For instance, Donne reminded the congregation at Saint Paul’s Cathedral that Advent not only invites us to await the Savior but also to assess ourselves:
The Church prepares our devotion before Christmas Day with four Sundays in Advent, which bring Christ nearer and nearer to us and remind us that He is coming to enable us by a further examination of ourselves to depart in peace, because our eyes have seen His salvation.—John Donne, from “The Showing Forth of Christ.”
A pastor leads the flock of Christ across bucolic brooks, around treacherous ledges, through halcyon hills and delightful dales, to discover the fairest field in which to graze.
The wondrous reality of the forgiveness of one’s sins, and the gift of eternal salvation through grace, and by faith in Jesus Christ is not only an existential redemption without comparison, it is a good and pleasant pasture. It’s also a nourishing place for a Christian shepherd. Residing in the good pasture of God’s salvation is enhanced by a discipleship of the seasons. Advent comes. The cycle of life in Christ begins again. Some different dimension of the unfathomable riches of the Lord Jesus appears in each season. Advent is a time of surprising contrasts: waiting for a King—apathetically dismissing prophecy; a kingdom of love arrives—the massacre of the Innocents; a royal birth of Messiah—the ignoble crèche of a feed trough; and the common shepherds with celestial angelic host.
When I was a pastor guiding the flock of Christ through the seasons of the Church Year, I looked forward to shepherding through the days of our lives. No Donne, I nevertheless sought to find glory beneath banality. I wanted the People to see it as well. As I prepared to feed the flock on word, sacrament, and prayer, I always looked forward to finding the contrasts in the season, and inviting men and women, boys and girls, to come and see it too. For the rest of the Gospel story, the rest of our lives, will be fed by contrasts. The cross, the crown; the grave, the resurrection.
It is in this spirit that I compose Advent and Christmas spiritual songs, and hymns.
We are thankful to announce the publication of “When Christ was Born,” in sheet music format. The song, a CCLI registered selection for your church, is now available through SMP Press. As we launch this new expression of the song, “When Christ was Born,” we pray that the Lord will be glorified, His Church blessed, and, in some way, one person will see the glory of Jesus Christ, turn from the world, and embrace the Savior of the world.
Downloadable sheet music of “When Christ was Born” is now available here.