The whole earth is full of His glory

“Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Genesis 28:16)
           
 When I was in high school, I was part of a show choir called Choral Spectrum. Every December, on the day before Christmas break, our group would take a bus around to local malls and nursing homes to sing Christmas carols and songs from Handel’s Messiah in beautiful four-part harmony. It was one thing to sing Joy to the World at a nursing home; it was another, much more glorious thing, to sing the Hallelujah Chorus in the atrium at the old Civic Center mall in Hartford.

I did not become a Christian until a few months after my high school graduation. And although I sang Handel’s Messiah a few more times in college, it hasn’t really come to mind much in the past 25 years. But last week, as I prepared to preach on Isaiah 9:1-7, the passage on which the song “For unto us a child is born” is based, Handel’s Messiah was playing on a loop in my head.

For unto us a child is born.
Unto us a Son is given.
And the government shall be upon his shoulders.
And his name shall be call-ed
Wonderful counselor
The mighty God
The everlasting Father
The prince of peace


In Genesis 28, Jacob is on the run from his brother Esau, who wants to kill him. Jacob lays down to sleep in the middle of the wilderness, and as he sleeps, he has a dream of a stairway to heaven, with angels ascending and descending on it. God, who is above the staircase, pronounces a blessing over Jacob, promising that He will be with him and watch over him wherever he goes, and that the land upon which he is sleeping will one day belong to him and to his offspring. And when Jacob awakes, he says, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it” (Genesis 28:16).

As a 17-year-old singing classical music in the mall, all I knew was that I enjoyed making beautiful music with my friends during the magical Christmas season. But as a 47-year-old charged with proclaiming the wondrous news that Jesus, my Savior, came to this world as a baby to eventually die on the cross and make a way for us to be right with God? This song, and this passage, mean something else entirely, something beautiful and profound. I didn’t truly understand the words that I was singing 30 years ago, but I rejoice that Jesus was being glorified, and I hope that those who heard us sing were drawn to Him. Surely the Lord was in the Civic Center, and I was not aware of it.

In Isaiah 6, Isaiah sees a vision of God in the throne room, and he hears the seraphs calling to one another, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3). Our world is still full of His glory, from the smallest snowflake to the most awe-inspiring thunderstorm, from the hummingbird at the bird feeder to the whale in the ocean, from a choir of unaware teenagers to a congregation of flawed men and women who know and love Jesus. May God give us the eyes to see His glory in unexpected places this Christmas season, that we might exclaim with wonder along with Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

No Comments


Recent

Archive

 2023

Categories

Tags

1 Corinthians 10 1 Thessalonians 5 2 Corinthians 13:5 2 Timothy 4 Adoption Affirmation American cullture America Anonymity Anxiety Apologetics Approval Arguments Atheism Baptism Barnabas Battle Be still Bible Study Bible reading Bible study fellowship Bible Billy Graham Bob Pierce Bonhoeffer Books Breath Prayer Brennan Manning Brian Fearon Bronx Busyness C.S. Lewis Cape Coast Castle Central African Republic Character Charles Spurgeon Charleston Cheap grace Christian media Christian privilege Christian publishing Christmas Church growth Church life Church College Commitment Communication Community Compassion Competition Confidence Contentment Coronavirus Counseling Courage Cove Service Cowardice Craig Wolfram Critical Race Theory Criticism Cross Culture D.L. Moody Daniel David Death Despair Discernment Discipleship Distractions Division E.M Bounds Easter Ebenzer Ecuador Edward Kimball Election Elisabeth Elliot Enabling Encouragement Endurance Envy Ephesians Eternal life Eternity Evaluation Evangelism Faith False Teachers Fame Family Fasting Father Fear Fellowship Footwashing Forgiveness Francis Chan Freedom Friendship Gaia McDermott Gates George Mueller Gift exchange Gino Marozzi Giving Glory God's character God's faithfulness God's goodness God's leading God's love God's plan God's presence God's sovereignty God's wrath God\'s faithfulness God\'s love God\'s sovereignty God Good Samaritan Gospel Grace Grief Haiti Handel's Messiah Happiness Hartford City Mission Healing Heaven Hebrews 11 Hell History Holiness Hollywood Holy Spirit Home Hope Horatio Spafford Hospitality Houston Human rights Humility Hypocrisy Identity Ideologies Idols Immanuel In memory of Information overload Injustice Insecurity Integrity Intimacy Isaiah 9 Israel Jeremiah 29:11 Jeremiah 8:11 Jesus' death Jesus' love Jesus\' love Jesus Job Joe Barone John 8 Jordan Perterson Joseph Joshua Joy Judgement Justice Kanye West Kingdom of God Lamentations Lament Las Vegas Leadership Leaf by Niggle Lent Lessons learned Longing Lord's Prayer Love Lynne Pleau Mark 10:21 Mark Driscoll Marketing Memorial Day Men's conference Mercy Mike Yaconelli Ministry Missions Money Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Moses Music Nancy Butler New Year's New life NewLife Old Testament Opinions Optimism Order Orlando Outreach Parenting Passion of the Christ Passion Pastoral care Pastoral ministry Pentecost Peru Phil Vaglica Philippians 4:13 Play Pokemon Go Politics Poverty Power Prayer Preaching Pride Month Pride Prison ministry Progress Prophecy Prophet Prosperity Gospel Proverbs 14:4 Proverbs Psalm 13 Psalm 46:10 Psalm 46 Psalm 51 Public Speaking Purpose R.C Sproul Reflection Relationships Relativism Relevance Reputation Rest Resurrection Rev 2:4 Revival Rich young ruler Righteousness Romantic love Ron Luce Running Sabbath Sacrifice Salvation Same-sex marriage Samuel Sanctification Satan Saul Seculosity Self-Image Self-Worth Service Sex Trafficking Sex Shirley Prey Signifigance Silence Sin Smartphones Social justice Songs of Ascent Spiritual Disciplines Spiritual Gifts Spiritual Warfare Spiritual growth Statues Stories Street Church Stress Success Suffering Suicide Sunday School Survivor Syria Technology Teen Mania Thanksgiving The Hartford project The Ragman The Sound of freedom The Underground The Valley of Vision Tim Keller Titanic Tolkienn Tozer Trauma Trust Truth Uconn basketball Unanswered Prayer Unity Uvalde Valley of Vision Vows Williams Syndrome Wisdom Work Worry Worship Zechariah accountability accusation addiction bitterness cancel culture child trafficking confession conflict cool devotion disillusionment divorce emotions evil evolution faithfulness foster care glory days gratitude idolatry influences listening marriage nostalgia pastor perspective problem of Evil prodigal son purity of heart racism recovery redemption relevant repentance story temptation the one Jesus loves time management trials tribalism violence vision