March 27, 2015

A Glimpse of the Holy

Isaiah 6

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

—  Isaiah 6:1

Spiritual disciplines prepare us to worship God. Worship brings us into God's presence. We can't expect to see God like Isaiah did. God keeps his glory hidden for our own good (Exodus 33:19-23) so that it won't destroy us. But we might catch a glimpse of his holiness.

Isaiah's response is instinctive and instructive. Seeing God surrounded by angels singing "Holy, Holy, Holy," a terrified Isaiah exclaims, "Woe to me! . . . I am . . . unclean." Isaiah feels hopeless and helpless, as good as dead and justly condemned. He makes the appropriate response: an awe-filled confession.

Isaiah offers no excuses. He knows he is guilty of sin. Then an angel purifies his lips painfully with a smoldering coal, and Isaiah is a forgiven sinner.

Isaiah's vision demands that we practice disciplined daily confession. Then, when we worship with fellow believers, we will catch a glimpse of God in his glorious grace and join the chorus singing, "Holy, Holy, Holy!"

God then asks, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" With confession as our daily discipline and worship as a weekly practice, God calls us to make his holiness known. God knows people won't understand, but he still calls us to tell what he's shown us. We've caught a glimpse of his glory; how can we help but tell?

Holy Lord, may we glimpse your glory in the lives and worship of your people. Guide us to confess our sin and proclaim your holiness. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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