Guest Post — Todd Jenkins … Isaiah meets Here-I-Am-Lord

Todd Jenkins shared this wonderful Riff on Isaiah 58 with me last week. I definitely wanted to post this … for many reasons. 1) It is wonderful to talk back to a scripture and a hymn at the same time, 2) So many of us have a powerful relationship with this song (I once had a Brazilian foursquare Gospel Pastor with whom I was building sharing who was in my service and he said to me, “I didn’t know you actually have hymns like this!”) 3) and … some of us have a powerful relationship with this psalm and so we need to push it out of the nest of individual spirituality and into the un-comfort-zone of the community of faith. See this in his own setting for this week’s Tuesday’s Muse blog — here on WordPress.

Todd writes, What if, by way of Isaiah 58, the dialog of Daniel L. Schutte’s 1981 hymn, “I, the Lord of Sea and Sky” is reversed, with the church asking the verses’ questions and God responding with the refrain?

Here I Am   (a riff on Isaiah 58:1-12 MSG
“Your Prayers Won’t Get Off the Ground”)

We, the church of now and here,
wonder if the Lord is near.
Dwelling in this cold, dark place,
we feel alone.

We who gather week by week,
pretty sure that we are meek,
not to mention mostly right.
Whom shall we call?

(The trumpet blasts:)

Here I am, church. Do you know me?
I have heard you calling in the night.
Will you go church, if I lead you?
Will you hold my people in your heart?

We have called a fasting day,
dressed the part and learned to pray;
but despite how much we cry,
our prayers won’t fly.

Profit is our great reward,
from the fist or from the sword.
In the silence we feel lost.
Whom shall we call?

(The trumpet blasts:)

Here I am, church. Do you know me?
I have heard you calling in the night.
Will you go church, if I lead you,
Will you hold my people in your heart?

From what else shall we abstain,
so that we can bear their pain?
Justice, liberation bring?
Deep hunger feed?

Shelter from the cold and rain?
Rescue from the deepest bane?
Whom shall we call?

(The trumpet blasts:)

Here I am, church. Do you know me?
I have heard you calling in the night.
Will you go church, if I lead you?
Will you hold my people in your heart?

© 2020 Todd Jenkins

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8 Responses to Guest Post — Todd Jenkins … Isaiah meets Here-I-Am-Lord

  1. Andrea Stoeckel says:

    Maren, you aren’t kidding! in ’89 at my ordination we sang this, as well as “Lift Every Voice”. However, the “Classically. Trained. Organist” chose to mess them BOTH up [on purpose by his own admission that I overheard] (sigh)

  2. I love this; thank you Todd, and thank you, Maren, for sharing it. I keep asking these questions; I keep seeking for this assurance.

  3. lynetteg says:

    Maren, there appears to be a line missing – the third line in the last quartet of verse. I would make something up however would like to know what is intended.

    Thank you,

    Lyn Heine

    Greymouth

    New Zealand

  4. Rosalie Sugrue says:

    Hi All – I think this is great but like Lyn I did wonder if a line was missing in the last verse – but maybe Lyn, we Coasters are not highbrow enough to accept poems that vary verse length!

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