Preparing for Worship: Bearing Christ into the World

Preparing for Worship: Bearing Christ into the World

John Haralson   •   October 7, 2016

The Visitation, Rembrandt, Detroit Institute of Arts

But for you who fear my name  The Son of righteousness will rise  With healing in his wings  And you shall go forth again  And skip about like calves  Coming from their stalls at last 

Lenny Smith, "But For You Who Fear My Name" (based on Malachi 3:17, 4:2) 

Dear Friends, 

This is Rembrandt’s depiction of Mary visiting Elizabeth while both of them were pregnant. As I said last week, in the first chapter of Luke, Mary epitomizes every Christian in that she is carrying Jesus into the world. To be a Christian means that Jesus himself dwells deep within you by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

This means that no matter where you go, if you are a Christian, you take Christ with you. I love the way Rembrandt paints a small dog at Elizabeth’s feet. This is a scene from a very ordinary part of life. To bear Jesus into the world means that we bear him into the world even in our ordinary moments―at work, doing the dishes, going to school, or hanging out with friends. 

What can we expect when we bear Christ into the world? 

Rembrandt’s painting depicts the two women flooded with light, which was the artist’s way of representing Elizabeth’s (and her unborn son’s) joy upon encountering Christ in Mary’s womb. Bearing Christ into the world, we can expect others to experience joy and fullness. 

At the same time, there is darkness surrounding the two women. As we carry Christ into the world, we are not always received well. Sometimes, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 2, the aroma of Christ emanating from us is actually an “aroma of death” to those who do not know God.  

I would love to worship with you this week as we explore both the joy and the sorrow of carrying Christ into the world. 

This week: Bearing Christ into the World, Luke 1:39-45, 2 Corinthians 2:12-17.

Liturgy is here.  

Warmly in Christ, 

John 

PS For a brief introduction to Rembrandt’s The Visitation, check out this brief description.