Epiphany, Twelfth Night, Singapore. And the Purpose of Romans.

Galette des rois, PAUL Bakery, Epiphany, Singapore

galette des rois from PAUL Bakery, Singapore (facebook)

On the twelfth night after Christmas, BL and I were discussing the big idea of Romans.

Quoting Christopher Ash’s Teaching Romans, BL thought the purpose of Paul’s letter to the Romans was (i) to motivate them to be his mission partners; and (ii) to motivate them to live in harmony with one another.

Puzzled, I thought that on a plain reading and without reference to commentaries, Paul’s intent seemed to be to preach the gospel to the Roman Christians. It wasn’t an evangelistic rally he had planned for Rome.

Why preach the gospel to those whose faith was already well-known throughout the world? To strengthen their faith. And faith is strengthened by being more sure of what one believes in. Paul wasn’t advocating any blind leap in the dark…”by no means!”…

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17)

fève in the galette des rois, Epiphany, Singapore
…instead, Paul demonstrates how glorious the gospel is: how necessary it is for both Jews and Gentiles; how this is the great revelation of the mystery that has been kept for generations; how the Jews and the law were part of God’s plan for the gospel all along; how the current sin of Christians far from obviates the legitimacy of the good news, etc.

And Christians, so gripped by the magnificence of the gospel, would exhibit the “obedience of faith” (both the obedient response that is faith, and the obedience that comes from faith).

It is terribly important, imho, to put the focus on where Paul puts his passionate emphases – not another attempt to drum up prayer and financial support for his gospel campaign nor a pep talk about church unity. Instead, he blows their minds with the sheer crazy glory of the gospel. That is what will keep them in times of difficulty; that is what will make them live rightly.

Can’t wait to get stuck into Romans at small groups this year.

Carols for the Ungodly

Advent in Asia.

Time for imported Norwegian and American pine trees to fill tropical spaces with heavy heady fragrance.

Time to imported mince pies from Australia and Great Britain, to be nibbled in the bright sunlight.
Big Sister (Australia) and Walkers (British) mince pies, Mandura English Breakfast

Time for those beautiful John Rutter carols to remind you that God gives sunlight and gifts to the godly and the ungodly.

A choral treat that slips down the throat like brandy butter eggnog, but could Stuart Townend please write us a good meaty theologically-correct Christmas dinner? The occasion of Jesus’ birth has so much more significance than the humble birth of a great teacher in a manger, or the lovely tenderness of a mother caring for her child.

It was a cosmic birth of the Creator of the entire universe becoming one of his own creatures; it was the coming that the entire world had been waiting for generations upon generations; it was a

For now though, Rutter’s carols for candlelight, angels, shepherd’s pipes, donkeys, stars, nativity…

Candlelight Carol

How do you capture the wind on the water?
How do you count all the stars in the sky?
How do you measure the love of a mother
Or how can you write down a baby’s first cry?

Candlelight, angel light, firelight and star-glow
Shine on his cradle till breaking of dawn
Silent night, holy night, all is calm and all is bright
Angels are singing; the Christ child is born

Shepherds and wise men will kneel and adore him
Seraphim round him their vigil will keep
Nations proclaim him their Lord and their Saviour
But Mary will hold him and sing him to sleep


Find him at Bethlehem laid in a manger
Christ our Redeemer asleep in the hay
Godhead incarnate and hope of salvation
A child with his mother that first Christmas Day


Angels’ Carol

Have you heard the sound of the angel voices ringing out so sweetly, ringing out so clear?
Have you seen the star shining out so brightly as a sign from God that Christ the Lord is here?
Have you heard the news that they bring from heaven to the humble shepherds who have waited long?

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo! Hear the angels sing their joyful song.

He is come in peace in the winter’s stillness, like a gentle snowfall in the gentle night.
He is come in joy, like the sun at morning, filling all the world with radiance and with light.
He is come in love as the child of Mary. In a simple stable we have seen his birth.

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo! Hear the angels singing ‘Peace on earth’.

He will bring new light to a world in darkness, like a bright star shining in the skies above.
He will bring new hope to the waiting nations, when he comes to reign in purity and love.
Let the earth rejoice at the Saviour’s coming. Let the heavens answer with a joyful morn:

Gloria in excelsis Deo! Gloria in excelsis Deo! Hear the angels singing, ‘Christ is born’.

Shepherd’s Pipe Carol

Going through the hills on a night all starry
On the way to Bethlehem
Far away I heard a shepherd piping
On the way to Bethlehem

Angels in the sky brought this message nigh:
Dance and sing for joy that Christ the Newborn King is come to bring us peace on Earth and he’s lying cradled there at Bethlehem

Tell me shepherd boy piping tunes so merrily
On the way to Bethlehem
Who will hear your tunes on these hills so lonely
On the way to Bethlehem

None may hear my pipes on these hills so lonely
On the way to Bethlehem;
But a King will hear me play sweet lullabies
When I get to Bethlehem

Angels in the sky came down from on high
Hovered over the manger where the babe was laying
Cradled in the arms of his mother Mary
Sleeping now at Bethlehem

Where is this new King shepherd boy piping merrily
Is he there at Bethlehem
I will find him soon by the star shining brightly
In the sky over Bethlehem

May I come with you shepherd boy piping merrily
Come with you to Bethlehem
Pay my homage too at the new King’s cradle
Is it far to Bethlehem

Donkey Carol

Donkey riding over the bumpy road
Carry Mary holding her heavy load
Follow Joseph, leading you on your way
Until you find a stable, somewhere to rest and stay
Donkey riding over the bumpy road
Carry Mary
holding her heavy
holding her heavy
holding her heavy load

Donkey watching over The Jesus Child,
See The Baby, all with his mother mild!
Hear the Angels singing their song on high!
‘Noel! Noel! Noel! their caroling fills the sky!
Donkey watching over The Jesus Child,
See The Baby,
all with His mother
all with His mother
all with His mother mild

Donkey resting all in a manger stall,
With the oxen worship the Lord of all
Hush, He lies asleep on His bed of hay
While Mary sings so sweetly
‘Lulla, Lulla-lalay.’
Donkey resting all in a manger stall,
With the oxen
Worship The Lord
Worship The Lord
Worship The Lord of all

Donkey skip for joy as you go your way!
Alleluia, Jesus Is Born today!
Hark, The Bells Ring out with their message clear!
Rejoice and sing that
Christ our Savior Divine is here!
Donkey skip for joy as you go your way,
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ is Born today!

Jesus Child

Have you heard the story that they’re telling ’bout Bethlehem,
Have you heard the story of the Jesus child?
How he came from heaven and was born in a manger bed?
Mary was his virgin mother pure and mild,

Sing alleluia, brothers, sing alleluia sisters worship the Jesus child and praise his mother mild,
Glory to God on high’ the angel hosts above are singing:
Listen to the story of the Jesus child.

Have you heard the story of the poor humble shepherd men,
Sitting on the hillside with their flocks at night?
Suddenly the angel tells them: hurry to Bethlehem,
Go and find the Jesus child, the world’s new light,


Jesus child, lying at Bethlehem, sleeping safe at Mary’s knee,
Save my soul and bring me to paradise,
Let me join the angels singing glory to thee


Have you heard the story of the kings from the orient,
Following the star that’s shining over his head?
Offering their precious gifts of gold, myrrh and frankincense,
Kneeling with the ox and ass before his bed?


Brothers, let us celebrate the birth of the Jesus child,
Sisters, come and welcome him, the newborn King;
Praise the Lord who sent him down from heaven at Christmas time,
Young and old and rich and poor, his praises sing.


Christmas Lullaby

Clear in the darkness a light shines in bethlehem
angels are singing their sound fills the air
Wise men have journeyed to greet their Messiah
But only a mother and baby lie there

Ave Maria, Ave Maria
Hear the soft lullaby
the angel host sing
Ave Maria, Ave Maria
Maiden and Mother
of Jesus our King

Where are his courtiers and who are his people,
why does he bear neither sceptre nor crown
Shepherds his courtiers the poor for his people
With peace as his sceptre and love for his crown


What though your treasures are not gold or incense
lay them before him with hearts full of love
Praise to the Christ child and praise to his mother
who bore us a saviour by grace from above

Lo, how a Rose e’er Blooming

Lo, how a rose e’er blooming,
From tender stem hath sprung.
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
As men of old have sung;
It came, a flow’ret bright,
Amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it,
The Rose I have in mind,
With Mary we behold it,
The virgin mother kind;
To show God’s love aright,
She bore to men a Saviour,
When half spent was the night.

O Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispel with glorious splendour
The darkness everywhere;
True man, yet very God,
From Sin and death now save us,
And share our every load.

What Sweeter Music

What sweeter music can we bring
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

When children would reach for their stockings
And open the presents they found
The lights on the tree would shine bright in their eyes
Reflecting the love all around

He leaned with his head on the window
Watching evergreen bend in the snow
Remembering Christmas the way it had been
So many seasons ago

This year there’s no one to open the gifts
No reason for trimming the tree
And just as a tear made it’s way to the floor
He heard voices outside start to sing

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!

Carolers sang as he opened the door
Faces of friends in the crowd
And all of the shadows of lonely reminders
Driven away by the sound

Now the heart that for years had been silent
Was suddenly filled with the new King
As he clung to their hands like a child in the night
He found himself this revelling

What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
The birth of this our heavenly King?

Nativity Carol

Born in a stable so bare,
Born so long ago;
Born neath light of star
He who loved us so.

Far away, silent He lay,
Born today, your homage pay,
Christ is born for aye,
Born on Christmas Day.

Cradled by mother so fair,
Tender her lullaby;
Over her son so dear
Angel hosts fill the sky.


Wise men from distant far land,
Shepherds from starry hills
Worship this babe so rare,
Hearts with His warmth He fills.


Love in that stable was born
Into our hearts to flow;
Innocent dreaming babe,
Make me Thy love to know.


I Wonder As I Wander

I wonder as I wander out under the sky,
How Jesus the Savior did come for to die.
For poor on’ry people like you and like I…
I wonder as I wander out under the sky.

When Mary birthed Jesus ’twas in a cow’s stall,
With wise men and farmers and shepherds and all.
But high from God’s heaven a star’s light did fall,
And the promise of ages it then did recall.

If Jesus had wanted for any wee thing,
A star in the sky, or a bird on the wing,
Or all of God’s angels in heav’n for to sing,
He surely could have it, ’cause he was the King.

11 Christmas Carols by John Rutter and Clare College Choir Cambridge