Monday, July 12, 2010

A Vision Glorious

One thing I have been inexpressibly grateful for down here in Charlotte is the faithful testimony of the visible church of which we are a part. Every Sunday is a day to look forward to, and even every Wednesday night I anticipate meeting with the congregation to study the Scriptures and pray together with open hearts. The people there make me want to live better. They encourage me through their lives to live more wholly for the Lord.

While it is true, the people are the church, it is also true that the aroma of the congregation comes mostly from the life, and witness of their pastor. A weak pastor will have a weak congregation, however sweet and nice they are. A self-righteous pastor will have a self-righteous congregation more set on what they can do for the Kingdom, than what God would have them do. At All Saints, I believe that their faithfulness, their graciousness, and their steadfast standing on the Word of God comes because that is what their pastor models for them day in and day out.

Yesterday morning I was fed and nurtured and encouraged through the preaching and exposition of God’s Holy Word. After presenting a sermon that kept every single one of us intently listening to each word that fell from his mouth, Pastor Dean eluded back to the Old Testament-- Those looong passages in Exodus where the Ark of the Covenant is built and prepared, where the Holy of Holies is made with such intricate detail, where the descriptions of simple things like drapes and curtains become extravagant and glorious. He pointed out a detail I don’t think any of us knew. In Exodus 39, when the last of the projects is near completion, when the Israelites are finally ready to erect this magnificent dwelling for the Lord their God, for Yahweh, God seals this work by saving the best for last.

It was not the Holy of Holies, or the Mercy Seat, the Golden Cherubim, or any other important part that would be near to the Lord, that they were making. Yet, somehow, it was important and special. With just as much care as they had given to every other part of this Tabernacle, they made beautiful blue linen ephods with golden bells at the feet, and pomegranate pictures, and a crown for the head. This was to be the attire of the priest. And over his shoulders, falling down his chest, he was to carry the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

This priest would walk through the Tabernacle, and with a blood sacrifice as an offering, make a way for the people to be right again, with God.

Suddenly all those details made sense. I saw purpose and beauty in them. And I saw the character of the Lord in His law.

           Of course, of course this was the most important part!

In our union with Christ we now are robed in glorious, glamorous blue linen ephods, with dangling bells at our feet, and crown, a beautiful, royal crown on our head.

The service could have stopped right there. That was plenty to chew on for a lifetime. But then the organ played and we sang a hymn, the words so rich and full, 
“My blood I thus pour forth,” He cries,
“To cleanse the soul in sin that lies;
In this the covenant is sealed,
And heaven’s eternal grace revealed.

We needed no ceremony anymore. No spotless lamb, no turtle doves. It was all paid in full. The covenant sealed, God's grace revealed.

Then, when the elders came forth to serve communion I saw a glorious thing.

It is a tradition at All Saints that during the hymn preceding communion two elders come to the table, which is covered with a long white cloth. With perfect care they lift it up revealing the bread and wine beneath, and then reverently begin to fold the cloth together.

As they did this time slowed to a lull, and I saw them with dangling golden bells on their feet, arrayed in magnificent blue ephods, and glorious crowns on their heads.

The organ then sounded like angels singing, and the whole room spun for a moment as the Lord wrapped me in the rapture of the truths just preached.

I praise God today for His Word, for His Son Jesus who is now the ultimate High Priest, and for my pastor who leads so we can follow.

 It was only appropriate that we close with the last two stanzas of The Church's One Foundation. Our longing eyes were pressed to the most glorious vision!

’Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
Till, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blest,
And the great Church victorious
Shall be the Church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With the God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with thee. 

No comments:

Post a Comment