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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, February 8, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Isaiah 6:1–8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.

And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!” (NRSV)

An elder in a previous congregation asked me why we worshiped the way we did each Sunday. Was there any reason we followed the same order each week? While I sought to assure him of the centuries-old rhythms we continue to use, I now wish I had simply asked him to reread these verses from the prophet Isaiah. While these are not new thoughts, I think they bear repeating.

When we gather for worship, we enter into the mystery of God’s presence. Thus we begin by glorifying the Holy One with liturgy, song, and prayer. Then we recognize and confess that we have not been the people God calls us to be (“we are people of unclean lips”). And so we turn to our merciful God, confessing what we have done and what we have left undone, seeking forgiveness and new beginnings (“our guilt departs, our sin is blotted out”).

This assurance of pardon opens us to hear God’s word, which leads us to respond (“Whom shall I send? Here I am. Send me”). Thus we affirm our faith; pray for others and our common life; share our offerings of our money, time, and discipleship; and depart the sanctuary to serve God and our neighbors. Thank you, Isaiah! Thank you, guiding God!

I am grateful, gracious God, for the ancient rhythms that direct our weekly worship. May our worship as a household of faith draw us together with one another and with you. Immerse us in your mystery, turn us around, and lead us by your word as you send us out in your service, following Christ our Lord. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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