|Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy (1635)|
The Odd and Overwhelming Otherness of God
The odd and overwhelming
otherness of God
- In which Isaiah stands as if
he's some divining rod
Who's found the source of life
and all creatIon's power -
Is followed by so deep a self-
awareness, he just cowers
In his inadequacy:
Woe! Lost! And unclean!
And he is doomed, for all
the majesty that he has seen;
But God has means, it seems,
the doomed one to reclaim,
The coal in tongs atones,
and guilt departed is proclaimed.
But lest we think the prophet
basks in holy bliss,
All-glowing with what must have seemed,
with such an act, God's kiss,
The one who's touched, looks up,
and from his bended knee,
And knowing what he's called to do,
says, "Here I am; send me!"
Such odd, persistent grace
comes when and where it will;
To you, to me, and everyone
that love, its name fulfill.
Scott L. Barton
[The phrase "the odd, overwhelming otherness of God," and other ideas in the poem come from Walter Brueggemann's "Isaiah 1-39" in the Westminster Bible Companion series, pp. 57-60.]
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!”
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”