Join our mailing list

Christus Paradox 2019

A service of lessons and carols that invites people to approach Advent and Christmas with songs that sing about both forgiveness and justice, healing and correction, personal serenity and cultural reconciliation, human flourishing and the flourishing of all creation.

The one who holds the world in being was lying in a manger. He was simultaneously speechless infant and Word. The heavens cannot contain him, a woman carried him in her bosom. She was ruling our ruler, carrying the one in whom we are, suckling our bread. O manifest infirmity and wondrous humility in which was thus concealed total divinity! Omnipotence was ruling the mother on whom infancy was depending, was nourishing on truth the mother whose breasts it was sucking. May he bringt his gift to perfection in us, since he did not shrink from making his own our tiny beginnings, and may he make us into children of God, since for our sake he was willing to be made a child. —Augustine of Hippo

More than mind can fathom, limit or untwine,
this mysterious yoking, human and divine,
but what reason fetters, faith at length unlocks,
and wise hearts discover truth in paradox. —Carl P. Daw

Disclosed to us in revelation is “the mystery of our religion”—the mystery of God’s grace. We see it; it comes out to meet us as a reality in history and in our own life. But we do not fathom it. In that sense, Christian theology always has to do with mysteries that it knows and marvels at but does not comprehend and fathom. . . . Believers do know those mysteries; they are no longer a folly and an offense to them; they do marvel at God’s wisdom and love manifest in them. . . . they do not experience them as an oppressive burden but rather as intellectual liberation. Their faith turns into wonder; knowledge terminates in adoration; and their confession becomes a song of praise and thanksgiving. Of this kind, too, is the knowledge of God theology aims for. It is not just a knowing, much less a comprehending; it is better and more glorious than that: it is the knowledge which is life, ‘eternal life.’ —Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics

Theological paradox checks reason’s overreach. If reason refuses to be disciplined by paradox it will find itself falling into various errors and incoherent babbling. . . . Ultimately, paradox calls us to humble ourselves and worship the one from whom and through whom and for whom are all things. —Bruce P. Baugus

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span
summer in winter, day in night
heaven in earth and God in man
great little one, whose all-embracing birth
lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth. —Richard Crashaw

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. —Revelation 21:23

Christus Paradox

Organ Prelude: 
I. Prelude on “Christus Paradox” (arr. Albert Travis) 
II. How Bright Appears the Morning Star in three movements: Prelude, Pastorale and Toccata (arr. Walter Pelz)

Choral Introit: The Glory of the Father (Egil Hovland)

Processional Hymn: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel (arr. John Ferguson)


          Pastor:       Our help is in the name of the Lord,
          All:             who made the heavens and the earth.

                             The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,
                             and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

Bidding Prayer

          Pastor:       Beloved in Christ, in this season of Advent, it is our duty and our delight
                            to prepare ourselves to hear the message of the angels and to go in
                            heart and mind to Bethlehem and see the Son of God lying in a manger.

                            Let us hear and heed in Holy Scripture the story of the loving purposes
                            of God from before the creation of the world through the time of our
                            rebellion against God, to the glorious redemption brought to us by this
                            holy Child, preparing our hearts to welcome him with hymns and songs
                            of praise and loving devotion.

                            As we do, we pray for the needs of the whole world, for abiding peace
                            and justice on earth, for the unity and mission of the Church for which
                            he died. We remember in Jesus’ name those living with poverty, with
                            violence, with loneliness, with bitterness, with trauma, with fear.
                            We remember those who do not know the abundance of God’s love
                            or the joy of receiving this gift. We also remember with gratitude the
                            whole multitude which no one can number, who rejoice with us but
                            on another shore, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with
                            whom, in Jesus, we are one for evermore. These prayers we offer in
                            the words Christ himself has taught us:

          All:            Our Father, who art in heaven,
                            hallowed be thy name.
                            Thy kingdom come.
                            Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
                            Give us this day our daily bread.
                            Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
                            Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
                            For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen!

I. The Whole Creation’s Head and Lord Assumes Our Very Nature

Readings: Proverbs 8:12, 22-31 and Colossians 1:15-20

         Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

Where Is This Stupendous Stranger? (Michael Larkin)

Hymn: Behold the Great Creator (adapt. and harm. Ralph Vaughan Williams)

II. God’s Servant as the Antidote to the Serpent

Reading: Genesis 3:8-15 and John 3:13-16

         Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

Lost in the Night (arr. Kyle S. Haugen)

There Shall a Star Come Out of Jacob (arr. Felix Mendelssohn)

Hymn: As Moses Raised the Serpent Up (tune)

III. A Child Shall Lead

Reading: Isaiah 11:1-6

         Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

A Child My Choice (Richard Dirksen)

This Little Babe (Benjamin Britten)

IV. The Suffering Servant

Reading: Isaiah 9:6 and Isaiah 53:7-11

         Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

Child of Peace (Jeffrey Van)

Hymns in Alternation: Hark! the Herald and Ah, Holy Jesus (Lift Up Your Hearts, 80; arr. John Ferguson)

V. The Mystery of the Annunciation

Reading: Luke 1:39-45

         Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

When God's Time Had Ripened (text: Carl P. Daw Jr.)

Magnificat (Herbert Howells)

VI. Heavenly Angels Welcome a Child in a Manger

Reading: Luke 2:1-14

         Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

O Magnum Mysterium (Tomas Luis de Victoria)

Angels, We Have Heard on High (Lift Up Your Hearts, 82)

VII. The Mystery of the Incarnation

Readings: John 1:1-4, 14 and Hebrews 1:1-3

         Leader:       The word of the Lord.
          All:             Thanks be to God.

What Sweeter Music (John Rutter)

Christus Paradox (arr. Alfred Fedak)


          Pastor:       Almighty God, you have poured upon us
                            the new light of your incarnate Word.
          All:            Send your Holy Spirit to us
                            so that this light, enkindled in our hearts,
                            may shine forth in our lives.
                            Give us grace to cast away the works of darkness
                            and to put on the armor of light
                            now in the time of this mortal life
                            in which your Son Jesus Christ
                            came to us in great humility;
                            and also on the last day
                            when he shall come again in his glorious majesty
                            to judge the living and the dead,
                            and to usher us into that city
                            without death or mourning or crying or pain,
                            where the Lamb will be our light forever.
                            We pray through Jesus Christ our Lord,
                            who lives and reigns with you,
                            in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
                            one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Hymn of Dedication: I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light (Lift Up Your Hearts, 730)


          Pastor:       May the God of peace sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept
                            sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
          All:             Alleluia! Amen.

Recessional: O Come, All Ye Faithful (Lift Up Your Hearts, 76)

Organ Postlude: Postlude on Puer Nobis (Aaron David Miller)