Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Monday, February 9, 2015

All Our Desires Are Known

It is with some embarrassment and alarm that the Psalmist prays, “O Lord, you know all my desires, and my sighing is not hidden from you” [Psalm 38:9 BCP]. The words are strong words. The Septuagint Greek translates the word for desires as “lusts”, and the word for sighing as “groaning”. At our very worst he sees us.

No wonder the Psalmist in the very next Psalm prays, “Deliver me from my transgressions and do not make me the taunt of the fool” [Psalm 39:9]. It is not just that all our desires, bad and good, are seen by him. Our foolishness is seen not only by Him but also by the fool who may well taunt us for our foolishness. Finger pointing is a worldly sport.

Again the Psalmist prays, “I waited patiently upon the Lord; he stooped to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the desolate pit, out of the mire and clay; he set my feet upon a high cliff and made my footing sure” [Psalm 40:1,2 BCP]. The Lord God not only stooped to hear  our cry; He becomes Incarnate, born in human flesh, that through His Death, Resurrection, and Ascension he might lift us out of the miry pit and carry us aloft to God the Father. “Not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the Manhood into God” [Athanasian Creed].

How far down is it from Heaven to earth? Down thousands of tumbled miles, immeasurable distances from heaven’s highest realm to the lowest earth. A Late-Medieval English poem rightly identifies this Middle Earth of ours as the focal point of the world’s greatest mystery: “The turning circle of the years had spun/ Through the world’s winters in the way men count,/  Two hundred and three times, and then/ Still thirty more, since Almighty God,/ The King of Glory, had been born on this middle-Earth of ours, light for the faithful/ In human form” (Burton Raffel, “Elene,” Poems and Prose from the Old English).

He works this miracle by the sacrificial offering of His own Blood. This gift is offered free to us, but very expensive for Him. “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water” [Hebrews 10:19-22].   

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