Our Trip to Mars Hill

My wife and I recently took a trip to Seattle, Washington so that she could attend the American Pharmacist Associaton conference. We were there over the weekend and, as there was not a faithful congregation nearby where the Gospel was purely preached and the sacraments faithfully administered, we decided to attend Mars Hill Downtown, a short walk from our hotel. It’s a very influential network of non-denominational churches founded in Seattle under the leadership of Pastor Mark Driscoll, a fiery and uncompromising preacher.

Mars Hill Downtown is located in an old red brick building that from the outside looked like it was abandoned. It would appear from the structure that they are trying to reach out to the poor and disenfranchised of the city. I was a little surprised, then, that there was a security guard at the entrance, put there to keep the homeless and poor out and the young yuppies in.

Once inside, the building was a hybrid of coffee shop and contemporary art gallery. The floors and walls were black, without any decoration, crosses, or other symbols that would lead the visitor to think that this is a place to worship the Triune God. There was a gathering area with good coffee, information about the church, and a bookstore which consisted mostly of books written by the Mars Hill staff. While getting our coffee, we were greeted by a very friendly man in his twenties, dressed in Urban Outfitters jeans and trendy buttoned down shirt, who kindly asked where we were from, how we heard about the church, and told us that he was glad that we were there.

The worship space was darkly lit with a stage in front. At the back of the stage was a curtain especially made for projection, and an advertisement for a church trip to Turkey was looping. The equipment was set up for the band, and we sat down and had a seat about ten minutes before the service was about to start so that my wife could read through their booklet on what they believed.

After we sat down another young man in his twenties, dressed in Urban Outfitters trendy jeans and button down shirt, sat down in the seat in front of us, asked us where we were from, and told us how great the church was. He had been attending Mars Hill since he moved to Seattle about 4 years ago and since attending there he had started taking his faith much more seriously, had learned much more about theology, and had become a better man and a better husband.

The service started with two songs led by a rock trio of guitar, keyboard, and drums. The first song reminded me vaguely of Psalm 51 and the second song was the David Crowder arrangement of “All Creatures of our God and King”. I appreciated the hymns, as they were the only songs in the service that I would call sing-able congregational song. After the opening songs, we had about 20 minutes of announcements. It was during this time that most of the church attendees came in. The people attending the church were nearly all young, white people in their 20’s and early 30’s. There were no children as they were sent elsewhere, and there were no middle aged or older folks. There were also no teenagers. The announcements were part announcement/part pep rally. We clapped several times at all the amazing things that God was doing at Mars Hill. We were introduced to the staff, all of whom were dressed in Urban Outfitters jeans and shirts, and we learned that the Easter service was going to be combined with all Mars Hill campuses and held at Qwest Field (the home of the Seattle Seahawks). The feeling of incredible excitement and happiness filled every moment of the announcements.

After the announcements, they took up the offering and we sang the hymn Amazing Grace. Now, a full 35 minutes into the service, we were ready to hear from the Man himself, Pastor Mark Driscoll.

As Mars Hill consists of several campuses, we watched a video of his message which was broadcast from another campus. Pastor Driscoll was nicely dressed in Urban Outfitters jeans and buttoned down shirt. His hair was just slightly messy and he had the two-days-without-a-shave beard. Mars Hill was making their way through the book of Luke (and taking two years to do it), and this week’s message was on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. While the irony of reading that parable while a security guard stood at the entrance to the church and kept the poor people out was not lost on me, the focus of the day’s message was on hell. There are some very positive things I have to say about Mark Driscoll at this point. First, unlike many mega-churches, he does not do Christianity-light. He does the best he can to preach the truth to the people he can reach. Secondly, he did appear to be genuinely concerned about the people in the campus churches and in the community regarding their eternal salvation.

He began his teaching on hell by showing very clearly from Scripture that we consist of body and soul, and that at death the two are separated but will be re-united at the resurrection. Everyone will either spend eternity in heaven or will spend eternity in torment in hell. He then went through several false teachings such as universalism, annihilism, reincarnation, naturalism, and purgatory and showed how they were false. While he was good to this point, he began repeating a phrase that he repeated throughout the entire 45 minutes message that really began to sting. He said, “It’s my job to tell the truth. It’s your job to make a decision”. He spent the bulk of the 45 minutes making it abundantly clear that if you did not make the right decision you would, without a doubt, spend all eternity in torment in hell. The Lutheran in me kept expecting him to get around to the Gospel. Unfortunately he never really did. If I make the right decision I go to heaven, if I don’t I spent all eternity in hell. I’m sorry Mark Driscoll, but that’s not the Gospel. My wife leaned over to me at this point and said, “There’s no grace!”

The Gospel was so tainted with decision theology that there could be no assurance of forgiveness besides your own personal feelings of conversion. This is the problem with decision theology: it separates the forgiveness of sins from the death and resurrection of Christ and places it on the decision of the individual believer. Yes, Jesus died for you, BUT, it all really depends on your ability to make a decision to BELIEVE that and to have a true conversion experience. I am so thankful to belong to a church that preaches pure Gospel, where I simply look at Christ and trust that I am saved by His grace, brought to faith by the Holy Spirit, and nurtured daily and weekly through Word and Sacrament. I think an important outreach for the Lutheran church could be to reach out to those who get burned out by this all-law, emotionally draining approach to Christianity, and give them the comfort of the pure Gospel.

Following the message, they celebrated communion. Pastor Tim got up in front of the congregation and explained their beliefs on the Lord ’s Supper (it’s an act of obedience to remind us of what Jesus did). He also tried to reach out to those who were committing the cardinal sin of evangelicalism; knowing the faith but not REALLY believing it. You could also use communion as a way to rededicate yourself to Jesus. However, Pastor Tim did not mention that communion gives us forgiveness of sins and salvation and he did not recite the Words of Institution. It was interesting to me that we were not ushered row-by-row, but people came up and received the cracker and juice or wine as they felt moved to do so.

The band played a song during this time that made a few references to the Passover (the song was called “Pass Over Me”). The song went on during the duration of communion and led to a very, loud, mystical, and moving climax as communion finished. Pastor Tim then led us in prayer and told us that the staff was available to talk if anyone had questions about the faith. Then we left, feeling like we had been spiritually beaten by 90 minutes of law. We stopped by a near-by chocolate shop to cheer up my wife, which just goes to show that emotional “spirituality” can be edified with Hershey’s.

The best thing was probably the coffee. It was quite good and you could drink it during the worship time. It really made the 45 minutes of hell-fire much more relaxing. As a 20-something I really did feel like I could belong there if I just gave up the pure Gospel and my Lutheranism. Mars Hill has the following things that the Lutheran church could emulate: good coffee, very welcoming people, a positive environment, well-executed worship times, and a good use of technology such as their website and their use of the web 2.0.

Besides that, it is beyond my understanding why we would want to imitate the Mars Hill experience in the Lutheran church. What they practice in worship clearly supports their doctrine. Really, it does!

Perhaps this will help:

The Spirituality Paradigm of Evangelicalism

 

  • The problem: Sin, death, and hell.
  • The solution: Jesus’ death and resurrection pays for our sins
  • This is applied to me through: My decision for Jesus and my personal conversion experience.
  • This includes: Emotional response, good works, and a concerted effort to follow Jesus.
  • The place where I commune with God most intimately is: First: Private Time. Second:     Small Groups: Third: Corporate worship.
  • The purpose of corporate worship is then to: Help me connect to Jesus, open the door for personal conversion experience, and to let me know about opportunities for doing good works.
  • This happens through: Emotional and subjective music ,media, messages, and environment.

Music and media may be at the bottom of this chart, but they fit very well within this system. Mars Hill has the emotional and subjective down to an art. I would say, whether intentional or not, it is emotionally manipulative. Let’s review the service:

  • We are greeted by a really cool, excited group of  people who care about us and are in love with Jesus.
  • We drink excessive amounts of caffeine.
  • The music is loud and meant to get us going.
  • We sing the word “Alleluia” thirty successive times during one of the songs.
  • Everyone is super excited about everything going on at Mars Hill.
  • Everyone is really pretty, young and dressed in Urban Outfitters.
  • The pastor skillfully tears up without crying. He does this several times during the message.
  • During communion, the bass is turned up so that I can feel something in my chest.
  • The lights are turned down low.
  • The prayers are subjective and highly emotional and meander around so that they feel “genuine.”
  • The service ends with a powerful, almost frenzied song. But it’s not so frenzied that it makes anyone too uncomfortable.

All of these things, from the evangelical perspective, are simply there in worship to help people connect with Jesus. And these are all standard practice. But what were we so excited about? What was the substance of the service? Let’s review everything in the service again, looking for biblical content. This was a bible believing church after all.

  • Minute 45 of the service: The pastor read a parable from Luke.
  • During the Message, the Pastor uses a few verses of the Bible to prove his points.
  • The End.

That’s it. Really, that was it.

Now let’s look the Lutheran Spirituality Paradigm

  • Our Problem: Sin, death, and hell
  • The Solution: Jesus’ death and resurrection.
  • This is applied to me through: Faith alone.
  • This includes: Really, it’s faith alone, which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. God works faith in us, gives us the Holy Spirit in Baptism, and feeds us with word and Sacrament. We always look to Christ for our salvation, assurance, pardon, and forgiveness.
  • The place where I commune most intimately with God is: First: Corporate worship where I receive Word and Sacrament. Secondly: In my vocation, as my life is an act of worship and as I pray continually.
  • The purpose of corporate worship is then: Giving us the Means of Grace, which are the preaching of God’s Word and celebration of the sacraments. My personal response is simply that; a response to the forgiveness, life, and salvation that I have through Christ.
  • Corporate worship includes: Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, the reading and preaching of Holy Scripture, the celebration of the sacraments, the prayer of the church.

Where does the intense, emotional, personal manipulation come into play? It doesn’t. It doesn’t come into play because we believe that we are saved by grace through faith, and not through our good works or the personal emotional intensity of our conversion experience.

It is worth noting that the Lutheran paradigm fits perfectly with the Liturgy of the Christian church, which itself grows out of the synagogue service which was familiar to Jesus and the early church. While Jesus rebelled against the excessive legalism of the Pharisees and academic disbelief of the Sadducees, he never rebelled against the synagogue service. Rather, it seems that he attended regularly, preached within it, and never made an attempt to make it into a subjective, personal, and emotionally manipulative event.

Having established the Lutheran faith paradigm, let’s look at how much biblical content we find in the Liturgy which we call the Divine Service.

1. Introit (opening Psalm)

2. Biblically literate, Christ-centered hymnody.

3. A reading from the Old Testament.

4. A Psalm of the Day

5. A reading from the Pauline Epistles, Revelation, or the book of Acts

6. A reading from the Gospels.

7. Prayers that petition God on behalf of the world.

8. The sacrament of the altar.

9. The sacrament of Holy Baptism on certain occasions.

10. The Sanctus, Nunc Dimittis, Kyrie, Agnus Dei, and Alleluia, which are all taken right  from Scripture.

11. A sermon, in which the reading of the day are explained.

12. The Lord’s Prayer

13. Confession and Absolution, which is clearly taught and commanded by our Lord.

In other words, we can see how in the Divine Service we are practically swimming in the Word of God. Because we believe that the Holy Spirit works through Word and Sacrament, we submit ourselves to the way He normally works, rejoice in the sure salvation won for us by Christ, and we respond with our songs and prayers. This is why the Lutheran confessions state that seeking God apart from Word and Sacrament is of the devil.

The big question in the Lutheran church in the past thirty years had been whether we can take the emotionally charged, subjective elements from the Evangelical faith paradigm and insert then into the Divine Service without destroying the Lutheran Paradigm. I think the wisest answer is a clear no. We cannot important elements of the paradigm without eventually seeing a full shift to that paradigm. Attempts to mix the two will inevitably be met with conflict because we attempting to believe two contrasting things at once.

I know that parting from the Evangelical faith paradigm is not an easy thing, yet we leaders in the church must think pastorally. It is possible that allowing our dear lay people to live with the Evangelical paradigm for years has given them an Evangelical approach to the Christian faith. Dear brothers and sisters, this is not okay! We must slowly, deliberately, and lovingly restore (or in many cases, teach for the first time) the Lutheran spirituality faith paradigm, not for our sakes, but for the sakes of our dear brothers and sisters in Christ who will be and are already being led astray by the loud, steady stream of American Evangelicalism which leads to nothing other than a mixing of law and Gospel and terrible burden on the consciences of God’s own people.

I know the temptation to copy and paste what we see in Evangelicalism is strong. They do, after all, attract thousands of young people. So let’s copy it; let’s copy the good coffee, positive environment, and accept nothing less than excellence from those who lead worship; even from the volunteers. Let’s leave the emotional manipulation, co-mingling of Law and Gospel, and un-biblical spirituality right where we found it.

In Silent Pain the Eternal Son

The past week has been quite busy and exciting at work, and so I was unable to write a blog post last week. To the five people who read this blog: Please accept my apologies. I hope that I won’t have to miss any more.

Our new hymn for the season of Lent is the contemporary text and tune, “In Silent Pain the Eternal Son”. The text is by Christopher I Idle of the UK and the tune is by the Scottish minister, musician, and owner of a blue blazer, John Bell.  This short hymn is a reflection on our Lord Jesus as He hangs on the cross and atones for the sins of the world.

Stanza 1:

In silent pain the eternal Son

Hangs derelict and still;

In darkened day His work is done,

Fulfilled, His Father’s will.

Uplifted for the world to see

He hangs in strangest victory,

For in His body on the tree

He carries all our ill.

According to dictionary.com, the word derelict means, “In a very poor condition as a result of disuse and neglect”. So we see our Savior in this first stanza sitting silent, neglected, and in very poor condition. We know from the Gospel accounts that Jesus said seven things from the cross. All seven of these things are short and Jesus was on the cross for 3 hours, so this leaves plenty of time for silence. The hymn-writer invites us to occupy the space of that silence and ponder the sacrifice that is before us.

We know from Mark 15 that there was darkness while Jesus was on the cross:

33And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour.

We also know from John 19 that Jesus fulfilled everything He was sent to do:

30When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

 

Another important idea in this first stanza is that of Jesus being lifted up. Jesus tells Nicodemus about this in John, chapter 3:

14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

We won’t go into detail with Moses and the serpent, but a bronze serpent was lifted up on a pole for the Israelites to gaze upon, and when they looked on it, they would be healed.  In the same way, Jesus is lifted up to heal us from all our ill. Jesus talked again about being lifted up in John 12:

31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.

When Jesus was lifted up, He drew all men to himself. He took our sins, our ill, and our evil up on Himself and it died with Him. This leads us into stanza 2:

Stanza 2:

He died that we might die to sin

And live for righteousness;

The earth is stained to make us clean

And bring us into peace.

For peace He came and met its cost;

He gave Himself to save the lost;

He loved us to the uttermost

And paid for our release.

The substance of this stanza comes straight from 1st Peter 2:
22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

This idea of dying to sin and living for righteousness is a theme which runs through the entire New Testament. But what does it mean to live for righteousness? Perhaps these words from Luther’s Small Catechism can help:

I believe that Jesus Christ…is my Lord…who has redeemed me….that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives, and reigns to all eternity.

 

To live for righteousness means that we no longer serve ourselves, but we live to serve and Lord and Redeemer who has purchased and won us.

Notice the wonderful image in verses 3 and 4, where we see the earth stained, brining us cleansing. The line “He loved us to the uttermost” brings to mind these words from John 13:

when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

 

Stanza 3

For strife He came to bring a sword,

The truth to end all lies;

To rule in us, our patient Lord,

Until all evil dies:

For in His hand He holds the stars,

His voice shall speak to end our wars,

And those who love Him see His scars

And look into His eyes.

 

Jesus did come to bring a sword, as it says in Matthew 10:

34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Jesus did come to atone for all the evil of the world. His is the Truth who ends all lies and rules within our hearts. As we move to the end of the hymn, we begin to hear the sounds of the book of Revelation. We spend the hymn looking at Jesus as His body lies broken and bruised, and the life leaves his eyes. However, when He comes again His voice shall end all wars and all evil, and His eyes will be shining brighter than the sun. To look into His eyes will be a truly wondrous experience. We will worship the one who was slain and is now alive, and we will rejoice in His presence.

From Revelation 1:

12Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, 13and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15 his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, 18and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades. 19 Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this. 20As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

 

O Wondrous Type! O Vision Fair

This coming Sunday we in the Lutheran church will celebrate the feast of Transfiguration. Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox celebrate Transfiguration in August, so Lutherans are rather unique in celebrating Transfiguration the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Celebrating it when we do allows Transfiguration to be a sort of book end for the season of Epiphany. Towards the beginning of Epiphany, we hear of Jesus’ Baptism and we hear the Father say “This is my Son, whom I love”. We hear the same words as Jesus’ body is changed to shine forth glory on the mountain of Tabor.

The hymn of the day is an anonymous 15th century Latin text on the Transfiguration. We sing it to the powerful 15th century tune, Deo Gracias, a personal favorite of mine.

Let’s start by getting into the biblical text for this feast day, from Matthew 17:

1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. 3And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” 5He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” 6When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. 7But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” 8And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.

Stanza 1 of the hymn:
O wondrous type! O vision fair

Of glory that the Church may share,

Which Christ upon the mountain shows,

Where brighter than the sun He glows!

This hymn does a great job of mixing narrative with explanation. It uses the word type to refer to this event. Usually, when we speak of a biblical type we are referring to something in the Old Testament that points to Christ. For example, Moses lifting up the snake in the wilderness to heal the people is a type of Christ, who was lifted up on the cross to save people from their sins. Here, however, the event of Christ glowing as the sun is a type of the glory that we may all someday share in heaven, when we see Christ in all of His glory and worship Him with all the saints who have gone before us. This event made quite an impression on the disciples and they mention it in other places. John mentions it in the first chapter of his gospel:

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Peter mentions this event in 2nd Peter 1:

6For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” 18we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. 19And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Here Peter here shows that his words have authority because he is an eyewitness to the majesty of Christ. The voice of the Father spoke and told the disciples, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Despite this overwhelming proof of Christ’s divinity, Peter defers to the prophecies of Scripture, which point to Christ even more clearly than the Transfiguration itself. The Old Testament Scriptures do the same thing as Moses and Elijah on the mountain; they witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that we have life in His name. In this sense, the light of the mountain can be seen as the light of revelation and understanding. Christ is the light who shines in the darkness.

The 2nd and 3rd stanzas of the hymn help move the story along:

With Moses and Elijah nigh

The incarnate Lord holds converse high;

And from the cloud the Holy One

Bears record to the only Son.

With shining face and bright array

Christ deigns to manifest today

What glory shall be theirs above

Who joy in God with perfect love.

Stanza 3 is pointing out to us that Christ is revealing and showing us the glory that will be ours above. This same language is picked up at the end of the book of Revelation:

1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

The book of Revelation describes heaven as a place where there is no need of any lights because the brightness from the glory of God will be our light. I have to encourage you to take a moment and ponder this mystery. When God revealed the back side of His glory to Moses, Moses’ face shone for the rest of his life. When the disciples saw a glimpse of the glory of Jesus and heard the voice of the Father, they fell on their faces and worshipped.  Ponder for a minute the wonder of the mystery of being truly and fully in the presence of Almighty God. Perhaps it should make us join in saying, “Lord, have mercy!” For those of us who have been washed and redeemed by Jesus, we will experience nothing but joy and wonder and awe when we are brought into the light of the presence of God.

Stanza 4

And faithful hearts and raised on high

By this great vision’s mystery,

For which in joyful strains we raise

The voice of prayer, the hymn of praise.

 

This amazing event does compel us to praise God. Paul encourages us to worship the Lord, who is our light and our life, in 1st Timothy 6:

12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

 

Every Sunday we come and worship the Lord, who dwells in unapproachable light. Keep this in mind this Sunday and every Sunday as we gather for worship. We approach our God with reverence and awe, knowing that He is holy and fully of majesty and He rules over all things in heaven and earth.

Stanza 5

O Father, with the eternal Son

And Holy Spirit ever one,

We pray Thee, bring us by Thy grace

To see Thy glory face to face.

After four stanzas of more descriptive poetry, the hymn ends with a profound prayer. The prayer that we may see His glory face to face connects our prayer life to the prayer life of Jesus, who prayed before He was betrayed and crucified:

20“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus’ glory was given to Him because the Father loved Him before the foundation of the world. Our Father loves us as well and has sent His Son to redeem us. We praise the Holy Trinity now, every Sunday in the Divine Service, and to all eternity as the Father accepts the prayers of His Son, our High Priest.