Having brought ourselves before the throne of the Almighty, giving ourselves to Him without reservation, we lift our eyes to look upon the King of Heaven and Earth. What Moses could not stand to see, we are privileged to look upon. Because of the Narrative we are about to recite, we may look upon God’s face, see His Goodness, His beauty without dying. Perhaps this is because we have already died with Jesus and been raised in Him to a new and indestructible life. I find myself reluctant to try too hard to understand the mechanism. I only want to know more of this Truth.
Up to this point in the service, we have been engaged in preparation for this moment. We have spoken of God and His holy acts. We have acknowledged our wretchedness apart from His provision, His forgiveness, and we have received (again) from Him assurance of our status as beloved, redeemed children.
Now the language of the rite changes. We no longer speak about God, but to Him. Not in petition but in awe and ravished by His love. We speak as one utterly overcome by His Self-giving.
“It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”
These words have become so familiar that we hardly hear them any more during the service. And yet they are raw with passion if they find their rightful place in the Presence of the One whose beauty draws us irresistibly closer when once we have His glory. With the angels and the elders gathered about the Throne, the opening of our Thanksgiving leads us into a contemplation not of God’s Mercy or His Love but His Holiness. The more we gaze into His glorious Face, the more desperate we become to give voice to our joy as He remakes us in the image of His Son.
Imagine the day when we are so absorbed in His Presence at this moment that the celebrant nearly shouts these opening words with a voice hoarse with love and desire, and it doesn’t phase anyone in the congregation! Indeed, the image I have is one of call and response, the celebrant cries out, but only to draw the congregation into the moment, joining in what becomes a tidal wave of worship that sweeps away all self-consciousness before it, leaving only the awareness of the love that has made it possible for us all to stand in this place.
The celebrant cries out in the “preface” some aspect of God’s Being that pulls down all the enemy’s strongholds in our life, and the overflow of love and thanksgiving that springs from our delivered souls pours out in response:
“Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts:
Heaven and earth are full of thy Glory!
Glory be to thee, O Lord Most High!
Blessed is He that cometh in the Name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!”
The refiner’s fire is burning! All the dross in our lives becomes as nothing to us in the moment of our translation into the Host of Heaven.
And we are finally ready. Ready to gaze upon the Father’s very heart.
But that’s for next week.