2014 Advent Devotional
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
(Isaiah 6.1-5, NRSV)
At this time of year we are used to hearing the strains of Good King Wenceslas reminding those of us “wealth or rank possessing” to help the poor and afflicted. This isn’t just a moving fable; there really was a King Wenceslas the 1st of Bohemia (in the modern Czech Republic) and by most accounts he was quite an unusual King.
On his throne amid affairs of state Wenceslas was no doubt clothed in robes of splendor. But as one ancient historian tells us,
“Rising every night from his noble bed, with bare feet and only one chamberlain, he went around to God’s churches and gave alms generously to widows, orphans, those in prison and afflicted by every difficulty, so much so that he was considered, not a prince, but the father of all the wretched.”
In this passage from the Book of Isaiah, the prophet is faced with the holy God in all his glory seated on his high and lofty throne. “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips,” he cries in terror, and “my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Yet as he prophesies later in his book, when this High King visits his people it will be as a peasant child, a Suffering Servant. And to his subjects he gives the greatest “alm” of all: sheer, unmerited grace.
Prayer: God of glory, thank you for your gift of grace. May we give it generously to all we meet. Amen.