Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Being Raised by the Gospel

While doing some research for my sermon (yes, I am, Lord willing, preaching at the Christmas eve service) about the shepherds, I ran into this quote from Calvin's commentary on Luke 2:20, "Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them."

Calvin writes, "If the cradle of Christ had such an effect upon them, as to make them rise from the stable and the manger to heaven, how much more powerful ought the death and resurrection of Christ be in raising us to God? For Christ did not only ascend from the earth, that he might draw all things after him; but he sits at the right hand of the Father, that, during our pilgrimage in the world, we may meditate with our whole heart on the heavenly life" (emphasis added).

The Latin words for lifting us up to heaven are sursum corda. Calvin uses this concept in his Institutes to describe what occurs when we partake of sacrament of the Lord's Supper. We are lifted up and fed by the Lord, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to be comforted and strengthened in our pilgrimage. The result is evangelism ~ the public worship of God and the proclamation of the Gospel. But what an interesting image! These realities of incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension are not merely intellectual truths, but rather they are vehicles of divine power, lifting us up to live in Christ. Is there a better Christmas present?

{Painting: The Adoration of the Shepherds, by Caravaggio}


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