You will say in that day:
“I will give thanks to you, O Lord,
for though you were angry with me,
your anger turned away,
that you might comfort me.
2 “Behold, God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid;
for the Lord God is my strength and my song,
and he has become my salvation.”
3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4 And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
proclaim that his name is exalted.
5 “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known in all the earth.
6 Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”
He was a gruff old fellow, not given to emotion or even a great deal of talk. He had been a surveyor by trade for many years. That meant endless hours tramping about outside in all sorts of weather. Most of his surveying career had been before the modern laser levels and GPS technology had revolutionized the field. He had done it the old-fashioned way, the hard way.
The conversation had turned to the sacrament. I was surprised when this quiet fellow suddenly got very talkative. The words tumble out of him. His voice cracked. He swallowed. He spoke of his sense of holy awe when he knelt at the rail and received the body and blood of Christ. I knew I was in a sacred space with him. We let him pause, compose himself, and go on.
Isaiah speaks of forgiveness in this chapter. These six verses form the whole of chapter 12 of his book. Isaiah wrote in the days of Israel’s diminution, when the once might empire of David was but a shell of its former self. Did you catch that last line? The Holy One of Israel is great or strong in your midst, he said. As my old friend had come to the diminution of his own life, his once vital strength was quickly ebbing, he was given to see the presence of the Gracious One of Israel as well, the forgiver of all his sins, the one who made him holy and fit for heaven. In the elements of that meal, God is great in our midst.
As you come to the table the next time you come to church, as a pastor gives you that host, I pray you have a bit of this man’s holy awe. The Holy One of Israel is great in your midst. He is your strength and song; He is your salvation. Trust and do not be afraid. God Himself comes to dwell in you.