Saturday, December 29, 2007

A Celebration of the Lordship of Christ

Sweet wig. Soul Patch added.

The last two weeks of Advent I enjoyed doing an exposition of Handel's Messiah for the morning sermons. I felt the liberty to preach such sermons in light of Handel's use of straight Scripture. Of 52 Sunday sermons from the Redeemer pulpit, approximately 48 are straight exposition. I thought mixing it up with a multimedia extravaganza would be good for 2 of the "other" sermons. Of course, a multimedia extravaganza for Redeemer means playing various audio clips from Messiah. Cutting edge stuff. Maybe we're going emergent? NOT.

Anyways, I'm looking forward to our annual missions conference at the end of January and studying the Scripture that makes up Handel's Messiah proved to be a great primer for our upcoming focus on missions.

Messiah traces the promise of Christ from Isaiah 40 through to His ultimate glorification and triumph depicted in the book of Revelation. We tend to think of Messiah as an Advent-focused piece of sacred music, when in fact, it is a glorious survey of the whole of redemptive History revealed in Scripture. One of the very clear themes of Messiah is the increasing exertion of Christ’s Lordship on the Earth since His ascension to the right hand of the Father.

It is a mistake to think of the Kingdom of God in purely futuristic terms. The idea that Christ will reign on the earth someday ignores the teaching of Jesus that declares the Kingdom to be inaugurated upon the incarnation of Christ. The Kingdom is NOW, and growing. I think Handel captures this scriptural reality wonderfully in the second part of His oratorio, particularly as he progresses from the ascension of Christ to the Hallelujah chorus. Notice the Lordship of Christ expand by Handel’s Scriptural progression (from Part II of Messiah)-

Unto which of the angels said He at any time: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee?(Hebrews 1 : 5)

Let all the angels of God worship Him. (Hebrews 1 : 6)

Thou art gone up on high; Thou hast led captivity captive, and received gifts for men; yea, even from Thine enemies, that the Lord God might dwell among them.(Psalms 68 : 18)

The Lord gave the word; great was the company of the preachers.(Psalms 68 : 11)

How beautiful are the feet of them: that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things. (Romans 10 : 15)

Their sound is gone out into all lands, and their words unto the ends of the world. (Romans 10 : 18 / Psalms 19 : 4)

Why do the nations so furiously rage together, and why do the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth rise up, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord, and against His Anointed. (Psalms 2 : 1-2)

Let us break their bonds asunder, and cast away their yokes from us. (Psalms 2 : 3)

He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh them to scorn; the Lord shall have them in derision. (Psalms 2 : 4)

Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. (Psalms 2 : 9)

Hallelujah! for the Lord God Omnipotent reigneth.(Revelation 19 : 6)The kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign forever and ever.(Revelation 11 : 15) King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.(Revelation 19 : 16)Hallelujah!

Do you see the subduing of the nations from the time of Christ’s ascension? While we associate the much-loved “Hallelujah Chorus” with Advent and the birth of Christ, it is actually a joyous response to the expansion of Christ’s Kingdom on Earth. Messiah wonderfully and biblically displays the lordship of Christ expanding on earth between his first and final coming (right now!).

The scriptural certainty of Christ's Kingdom expansion gives me great excitement about the mission of the Church. Missions are a celebration of the Lordship of Christ. It is our great privilege and joy to be a part of Christ’s expanding kingdom.


Rick Calohan said...

My wife and I perhaps by Divine Providence or was it Predestination that our membership classes have taken place during the season of Advent. To hear and witness the multimedia spectacular at Redeemer Presbyterian with Tony conducting or shall we say giving an exposition of this great work with the help of the London Symphony Orchestra, made Handel’s Messiah more meaningful than had I just went to the symphony without an inkling of what it was about. The sermons prompted me to purchase two Messiah CDs from the Redeemer Book Table. One for our household and one to give to my Aunt Donna, who had been lead soprano when her church choir performed it; It was enjoyable to listen to on Christmas Day while my Aunt Donna was visiting with us. What a delight when we exchanged gifts that we were able to give her a copy of such a marvelous work. I also shared the Word with my Battlefield2 email circle, which includes 20 members of various Christian beliefs throughout the Season of Advent. (I hope I do not owe any royalties or violated copyright laws.) If I did then as it is written so shall it be done. I did it because the Spirit of the Lord compels me to share with my brethren the Gospel and proclaim Christ’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Thank you, Tony for your exposition of Handel's Messiah, and the congregation of Redeemer who have made this Advent season truly memorable for our family. Soli Deo Gloria!

AJF said...

Praise the Lord!

The version I played on Sunday morning was actually the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The book table had the London Symph. Orch. you bought. Both are excellent.

Rick Calohan said...

I thought you said Chicago in your sermon, and from the pieces you played I concur they are both excellent, they are both excellent indeed! Thank you for the clarification!

jeff the nj bowhunter said...

tony - in addition to everything you know about me already, i'll add that i'm a middle school (public school) music teacher. yes, i know, i'm probably the only public school music teaching, choir directing, bow hunting, motorcycle riding, Christian, conservative teacher in nj, but anyway...

One of my favorite pieces ever to sing, listen to, and teach about, is "Messiah". i really enjoyed reading your perspective on the scripture as a pastor. it helps to put this amazing piece in a clearer light.

incidentally, i think as evidence of divine inspiration, Handel wrote the entire oratorio in about 20 days.

There's a fantastic DVD of a performance of the full "Messiah" that is done in the same way "Messiah" was premiered in Dublin in the mid 18th orchestra of about 25 instruments, choir of only 30 voices, and all male singers. The sopranos are boy sopranos from the choir school at Cambridge U in London. It is an amazing performance. I'll pass the info along to anyone who wants it. just let me know.

My personal favorite section out of the 60+ parts is the finale, "Worthy is the Lamb that was Slain" and the "Amen" chorus. I get chills thinking about the music, and the prospect of hearing it someday for eternity!!

AJF said...

Jeff, go to our Church website (link on my home page right column) and look under "sermons". I did a two part exposition of Messiah I think you'll enjoy. The first part is definitely on there, the second will be soon. Let me know what you think.

grj said...

I too thank you for your exposition on Messiah, it richly blessed me as I have just come to know of the piece in the last year and to hear your exposition has helped me to understand it better, especially the overall picture.

I also believe that it is a great truth that brings much peace to God's people to know that He reigns in His Kingdom NOW, here on earth, and His will is done and will be accomplished on earth as well as in heaven.

Thank you and Nathan for the well prepared sermons and teachings that you have provided us this year. I am grateful for our church and the sound biblical teaching. I am sure the Lord is pleased.

jeff the nj bowhunter said...

Tony - I started listening this afternoon, and got through the first half of 1st sermon, when 2 of 3 sons woke up from naptime.

I'm enjoying it so far, and I can't wait to hear the rest and the 2nd sermon too!

on the hunting front, so far, no deer this year. hopefully tomorrow will produce sweet venison!

AJF said...

Thanks Brothers! Praise God.

I'll pray for God to providentially direct a deer across your path Jeff!

Frontier Forest said...

Great and encouraging comments! Tony’s powerful exposition of Handel's Messiah and the WORD meanings is also providential in my readings. For Christmas, Cheri got me the new biographical work of John Newton “From Disgrace to Amazing Grace”. In reading his story, found out that his early Christian educating came from his dear mother, a devoted Scottish Calvinist. And his first exposure the Christian literature was at the ripe of age of 6, when Newton memorized the entire "Westminster Shorter Catechism." Then at the age of 10, one of the other books that eventually paved its way, that help to bring about his radical transformation was a careful Scriptural study of the anointed words of Handel’s Messiah.
Understanding His Amazing Grace is indeed, a celebration of the Lordship of Christ.