Adonai, et Dux domus Israel, qui Moysi in igne flammae rubi apparuisti, et ei in Sina legem dedisti: veni ad redimendum nos in brachio extento.
Adonai, and leader of the House of Israel, who appeared to Moses in the fire of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: Come and redeem us with an outstretched arm.
In singing about the House of Israel, it must be remembered: The Church is Israel. In this hymn, the Church is not projecting Jesus back onto an Ancient Jewish Scene. The Church is saying “This is what really happened, and other readings are wrong.”
The Church lays claim to the title “Faithful Remnant”. As Israel was lost, leaving only Judah, so now, the unbelievers are lost: leaving only the faithful Israel who follow the Messiah of God. And so, the same God who was in the bush that didn’t burn, who gave the law on Sinai, is now the God whose fire burns in the womb of the Virigin yet she is not consumed, and who, himself, gives the law in the Sermon on the Mount. As Jesus was seen as the unspoken Wisdom of God who orders all things, here he is the very Action of God who does all things.
In the Byzantine rite of Matins we sing “God is the Lord who has revealed himself to us.” The revelation of God is God’s own business. But he has entrusted the experience of that revelation, and the preaching of it to his people, the Church. We find in that Revelation that God is the Almighty One, the Actor, the First Mover: but he comes in response to our cry.
As I wrote last time, the doing of Liturgy in Community, of Life lived in that liturgy is as of a Dance before the Throne of God, with God. A dance requires a leader and a follower. But who is who? My Sunday School Teacher, Jeannette, used to say “The Holy Spirit is a Southern gentleman. He wants to love you, but he waits for you to invite him to.” God’s outstreached arm waits for us to call him. He may only come as he chooses, but he will only come when we pray. This is the error of the world: that it doesn’t want what it is offered.
When we call for the Almighty Fire of God, we get a helpless babe in a manger. The world wants lightings and earthquakes. We offer dirty diapers and breastfeeding. This is the Almighty Arm of the Creator of the universe: a tiny hand wrapped around your finger with surprising strength.
Israel means “Wrestles with God”. Let us read “wrestle” as “dance”: what will you dance with the tiny clasp on your forefinger?