Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Arise, My Soul (Wesley Hymns #2)

Isaiah 6:1-8
Message written in notes, rather than manuscript

ROOTS: The Hymns of Charles Wesley
one of the great writers (lyricist) of sacred songs in history
not because of great poetry, but sheer volume of output and powerful use of biblical themes
staying connected to our tradition ... growing as worshipers

Jaroslav Pelikan: Traditionalism is the dead faith of the living; tradition is the living faith of the dead.

Meeting God in worship
structure of worship, from Isaiah 6
entrance/gathering/call/praise
word
response – confession/pardon/sacrament
call/invitation
response/sending

Annie Dillard:
On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of the conditions. Does any-one have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or, as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? The churches are children playing on the floor with their chemistry sets, mixing up a batch of TNT to kill a Sunday morning. It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake some day and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return.” (Annie Dillard, Teaching a Stone to Talk, obtained online, Harper & Row, 1982)
Isaiah
just going to temple like usual
but the veil that conceals hidden reality was drawn back

God knows our particular needs
comfort in grief
Uzziah died - family connection? National grief?
On the throne, train filling the temple

pardon for sin
conscious of his unclean lips, the unclean lips of the people
guilt taken away, sin atoned for, blotted out

God keeps on calling and giving us another chance
whom shall I send and who will go for us?
as if Isaiah is overhearing God talking to God-self
not explicitly directed at Isaiah, a general appeal
our language around destiny/God’s will is that of a single chance
how can we be sure we have found the “one” for us
if we can’t go back and undo a choice, and we make the “wrong” one, how can we ever get back onto the perfect path
but God is always calling
. . . whenever we are ready to hear, we’re right on track

God is much more holy than we can imagine
Unclean lips?
life and spoken values don’t match (integrity)

Psalm 11.7, The Message

GOD’s business is putting things right;
he loves getting the lines straight,
Setting us straight. Once we’re standing tall,
we can look him straight in the eye.
C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength, the manifestation of angel creatures as truly vertical . . . but dizzying to our orientation, to our gravity

Seraphs, with “shesh kanaphim shesh kanaphim” (“six wings each”, literally, “six wings, six wings”)
cover their faces – glory of God
cover their feet – holiness of God (holy ground)
fly – will of God

“Woe is me! I am ruined/undone/lost/cut off!”
Wizard of Oz: “I’m melting”

Overcome by the holiness of God, Isaiah discovers himself to be forgiven, and ready to speak up with confidence. Charles Wesley describes a similar encounter with God in his hymn, "Arise, My Soul, Arise":
ARISE, MY SOUL, ARISE Charles Wesley (lyrics), Lewis Edson (music)
Arise, my soul, arise;
shake off thy guilty fears:
The bleeding Sacrifice
in my behalf appears.
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
my name is written on his hands.

He ever lives above,
for me to intercede;
his all-redeeming love,
his precious blood to plead.
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
and sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds he bears,
received on Calvary;
they pour effectual prayers,
they strongly plead for me.
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears him pray,
his dear Anointed One;
he cannot turn away
the presence of his Son.
His Spirit answers to the blood,
His Spirit answers to the blood,
and tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled;
his pardoning voice I hear;
he owns me for his child,
I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And, “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

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