Fr. David's Lent Reflections Day 11
Here we come to the eleventh day of our Lenten journey, God bless you as you travel the path to the Cross and to our Lord’s resurrection. Our reading from scripture is Isaiah 6:1-12.
1 And it came to pass in the year in which king Ozias died, that I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, and the house was full of his glory. 2 And seraphs stood round about him: each one had six wings: and with two they covered their face, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one cried to the other, and they said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
4 And the lintel shook at the voice they uttered, and the house was filled with smoke. 5 And I said, Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart; for being a man, and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people having unclean lips; and I have seen with mine eyes the King, the Lord of hosts. 6 And there was sent to me one of the seraphs, and he had in his hand a coal, which he had taken off the altar with the tongs: 7 and he touched my mouth, and said, Behold, this has touched thy lips, and will take away thine iniquities, and will purge off thy sins.
8 And I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go to this people? And I said, Behold, I am here, send me. And he said, Go, and say to this people, 9 Ye shall hear indeed, but ye shall not understand; and ye shall see indeed, but ye shall not perceive. 10 For the heart of this people has become gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 11 And I said, How long, O Lord? And he said, Until the cities be deserted by reason of their not being inhabited, and the houses by reason of there being no men, and the land shall be left desolate. 12 And after this God shall remove the men far off, and they that are left upon the land shall be multiplied.
Today’s reading shows us the worship of heaven. We see a throne, angels, the singing of the Trisagion, the smoke of incense, an altar, and generally speaking, glory. Years ago when I read this passage, and the one like it in the book of Revelations in the New Testament, I could see that worship in heaven was nothing like what I was, as a Protestant evangelical, experiencing on earth. That’s when I started to look at all the Christian denominations, to see which conformed most closely to Isaiah’s and St. John’s descriptions. It was like God had shown me the perfect house to live in, and I started driving around my neighborhood with the picture in my hand, looking for the closest match.
My process of discovering the Orthodox Church is a story for another time. But let’s look at what the worship of heaven brings about in Isaiah - repentance. Listen again to what Isaiah says: “Woe is me, for I am pricked to the heart, for being a man, and having unclean lips, I dwell in the midst of a people having unclean lips.” If you come to Church to worship God and don’t get a sense of your need for repentance, you’re missing the point. Even in heaven, this is the essential purpose of worship. We are beings created by God who have turned our backs on Him both individually and as a race, and we receive forgiveness, mercy, and acceptance into His Kingdom when we worship Him in spirit and in truth, which includes repentance.
Dear God, make us to become people who know the true purpose of worship! Help us to be people who come to you in faith, and seeing our need of your mercy, encounter your cleansing power!