Today we sang about (and to) the Lamb of God. We prayed, read portions of Isaiah 53 (below) and worshipped the Lord who bore our sorrows. Isaiah is one of my favorite biblical books. There are many reasons for that, but one is simply that I love the flow, the poetry, the drama, the expressive sweep of the words themselves. Something about the majesty of the writing often causes me to catch a glimpse of a larger picture, a more open view than what I see with my limited spiritual perspective. And Chapter 53 is surely one of the most beautiful and mysterious passages of scripture ever penned.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;
Yet we believed Him to be stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him;
He has allowed Him to grieve,
When You make His soul an offering for sin.
He shall see the labor of His soul,and be satisfied.
My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
He poured out His soul unto death,
He poured out His soul unto death,
He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many.
And these distressing, horrifying, glorious words were penned hundreds of years before Jesus "poured out his soul." We can discuss and debate the meaning of Jesus death. But As we sang Agnus Dei this morning "...worthy is the Lamb, worthy is the Lamb..." something happened. Something indescribable. I've noted in this blog that something has been happening at Jubilee for a while now. For me, it began just after Christmas on the Sunday I did the Anna monologue. It grew stronger during the week of prayer which culminated in a powerful prayer and worship gathering. As I began the "Fear of the Lord" series it continued, and I tried to express some of that here.
Something happened that morning as we read (coincidentally?) about the victorious Lamb who is worthy of glory, honor and power. What is it? What happened? I do not know. I simply know that something has changed, shifted, moved, altered.
That something continues. In my mind I'm hearing the words to a song, "O the passion! O the wonder! O the fiery love of Christ..." Contemplating the fiery love of Christ certainly must move us to reverential awe of our mighty, holy, God--to the right kind of fear. This morning I was moved to kneel as our worship time was drawing to a close. I am not graceful, and kneeling on the platform is certainly not a common thing for me--but I could no longer stand in the presence of God. Then I saw our worship leader, guitar in hands, kneeling as he played spontaneous worship music. Others knelt too...and then most of the congregation! Some were on their faces. If you are thinking this is "church as usual" because we are an Assemblies of God church, think again! This is Wisconsin, not the south, and we are not demonstrative folk here, as a rule. Peace that passed understanding, awe, poured over me in waves. I know this sounds a bit mystical, but I think I am trying to describe what cannot be...explained.
Perhaps it is a shame that we Pentecostal/Charismatics are known more for celebration than at reverence. Celebration is good. But the fear of the Lord is not just about celebrating. It is about facing our sin, our lack of holiness, our pride, arrogance, our lack of Christ-like love.
Today we were moved to our knees as we were confronted with the holiness and the fiery love of the Lamb.
Ephesians 2:13 But now, through Jesus, you were once far away from God have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
Romans 5:1 and 8-9 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us...God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the blood of Christ, he will certainly save us from God’s condemnation.
Peace with God through Christ's sacrifice!
It was an unseasonably warm day here. Tonight I sat outside as the wind of an oncoming storm began to blow. The wind blew warm and soft, then harder and cooler. I felt the change in the air. And I prayed and thanked the Lord for the wind of the Spirit that is blowing. The Divine Wind--the Holy Spirit. It is a mystery. I am becoming more comfortable with mystery than I used to be. I don't know what is happening among us. But I know it is God and I know it is good.