Saturday, June 9, 2012

Practicing Glory: Illuminating Worship

Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella,
Bring a torch, come swiftly and run.
Christ is born, tell the folk of the village,
Jesus is sleeping in His cradle,
Ah, ah, beautiful is the mother,
Ah, ah, beautiful is her Son.

--Renaissance carol, translated from French to English by E. Cuthbert Nunn

This old French song describes a custom of bringing candles to light a nativity scene, joyfully lighting up the scene so everyone can admire the beauty and ponder the mystery of the Son of God. Did you notice the words “beautiful is the mother”? Mary was beautiful because she reflected the glory of the God to whom she surrendered her life.

That same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the spirit, transforms us into His likeness, in an ever greater degree of glory. (2 Corinthians 3:18 GNT)

Imagine for a moment that you are Jeanette or Isabella, holding a candle to illuminate the figure of the tiny Baby. Pause there for a moment to wonder at the mystery of the Creator living among His creation.

Now your candle's light falls on the people surrounding the manger. Mary quietly ponders her Son, Joseph thanks God for the angel that told him the truth about the baby, and the shepherds merrily rejoice together. Others will arrive in the scene a little later: the elderly Simeon will pray over the Child, the equally aged Anna will proclaim a celebration, and the travel-weary wise men will offer expensive treasures.

The characters of the Christmas story show us specific worship habits, called spiritual practices or spiritual disciplines. Think of the word “discipline” as a choice to participate in a training program. Let the word “practice” remind you that these things take time and repetition.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. (Ephesians 4:22-24)

Practicing Glory explores ten spiritual disciplines, what the scripture says about them, and how we can put them into practice. Think of the disciplines as a gift guide--gifts of worship you can offer to the Greatest Giver of all.

Practicing Glory is a ten-chapter Bible study, suitable for individual or group use. It will be available in September. I will be blogging through the book and posting short video messages each week, beginning in early September.

Artist Kerry Jackson gave me permission to use his painting of Mary. View more of his work and learn about his ministry at

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