Trinity Sunday 2009
Theme: To be called by God
Let us pray.
Most holy, Lord God, you call all of us to ministry, to proclaim your great mystery of being one God in glory everlasting, in three persons, in Trinity; guide us in doing your will, empowered by the Holy Spirit and through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
I’m sure most of us have seen the amazing video from the Brittan’s Got Talent TV show. A very unassuming woman takes the stage. She looks frumpy. She does not give a good first impression. Then to the utter surprise to everyone in the audience and most of all to Simon Cowell, Susan Boyle sings “I Dream a Dream” from Les Miserables like an angel. She received a standing ovation. She was dubbed as the person who shut up Simon Cowell. Cowell is preparing a music contract for Susan.
She received a lot of press in this country as she continued through the show’s competition. The finale was a week ago Saturday and she was the odds on favorite. She came in second to a dance troupe.
Susan, a Scott, attended Edinburgh Acting School and also took part in the Edinburgh Fringe. Prior to her appearance on Britain’s Got Talent, her main experience had come from singing in church and karaoke in the local pubs in her village. She had also tried out several times for My Kind of People.
We know Susan honed her art and her voice in her church choir. (Can Our Saviour produce the next singing sensation?) She also seemed to look for practically any venue that will let her sing. That’s how she ended up on Brittan’s Got Talent.
We also know that after the Brittan’s Got Talent finale, Susan suffered from some kind of breakdown and was hospitalized. She had never received the attention and media crunch before in her life. Sure, many people must have told her how beautiful her voice sounded, which must have encouraged her to sing where ever she could. But it was all too much. She broke down. We are assured that she will not only be back, but her voice will soon be available on albums.
That’s what people with gifts or talents do with their gifts. They share them to make the world better. We enjoy hearing the singing of someone with a great, or even a good, voice. This is what we promise to do at our baptisms, sharing our gifts.
Susan knew she had a gift or a talent and she was more than willing to share that gift for God and for others. God give us gifts, not to hide them or only let them out with a few people we know really well, we are given gifts to share with everyone. It took a while, but Susan Boyle eventually did so on a reality TV show.
Isaiah of Jerusalem was given gifts or talents by God. As far as we know, Isaiah didn’t do much with them. He went about his priestly duties every day, day after day. But a time of crisis was coming and God needed to wake Isaiah up. God’s words needed to be heard, because people were ignoring God and God’s law. So God woke up Isaiah and did so dramatically.
King Uzziah, of Judah, died in 742 BC. He suffered from leprosy in his later years. Uzziah was succeeded by his son, Jotham. So why would God call Isaiah to be a prophet the year Uzziah died?
At this time, Israel and Syria made a military alliance. This alliance was going to negatively affect Judah later. In fact, they eventually invaded Judah. They were going to coerce Judah to take actions contrary to what God wants. So, God needed a prophet to keep Judah on God’s path.
Isaiah sees a vision. God is seated on high and God’s robe is sooooo big, it fills the temple. Isaiah is apparently a priest at the temple in Jerusalem, since only priests were allowed in the temple. The temple is the intersection between heaven and earth. So, Isaiah is able to look into the heavenly throne room from inside the temple.
Creatures, identified as seraphs or seraphim, fly over God. They have six wings. They covered their faces with two wings, covered their private parts with two wings, and the other pair of wings were used for flying. (Seems like some wings are either unnecessary or not functional.)
They praised God by shouting to each other, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of the angels; the whole earth is full of his glory.” This is where we get the Sanctus in the prayer book. This is the inspiration for the hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty.” As they shouted, the doors of the temple shook and the temple was filled with smoke. The smoke is likely from the sacrifices happening outside the temple at the altar and from the incense burning inside the temple.
Pretty impressive display. It scared the bejeebers out of Isaiah. Isaiah assumed that God was there to kill him, the sinner that he was. He recalled the things that he had said and found his words tainted, even blasphemous. And the people he knows say the same stuff, which must have included other priests. He is surrounded by people who do not respect God.
Then Isaiah realizes that he has seen God and that he is still alive! A Miracle! One of the seraphim flew over to the altar, which is outside of the temple, and took a burning coal from the altar with a pair of tongs. Why would a seraph need a pair of tongs? Hmmm.
In any case, the seraph touched Isaiah’s mouth with the coal. The seraph said, “This has touched your lips. Your sins are forgiven and are now gone.” Isaiah is now in a pure state and can now survive being in God’s presence. God asks who God should send and go for us. We don’t know if the “us” is a royal “us” or if this is a hint of trinity. And Isaiah says, “Me! Me! Me!”
What happens next is God delivers the bad news that Isaiah is to deliver.
Judah believes that as long as an heir to David sits on the throne, God will always protect Judah. Isaiah is being called to prophesy that that isn’t true. If they don’t shape up, God will take everything away.
There are significant theological messages given in this story of Isaiah’s call. 1) God is one. There are no other gods. But divine judgment is a collaborative process. 2) Divine power does exist in local structures, but they are always being tested whether or not they truly represent God’s purposes. 3) God will let people suffer the consequences of their self-delusion. People can be self-deluded into presuming they know God’s mind.
So what does all of this have to do with the Trinity in the minds of the people who picked this passage for Trinity Sunday? David Steinmetz said, “The theology of the Christian Church is in the whole sweep of its historical development. God is and was one God eternally subsisting in three persons.” So, this passage points to the triune God’s revelatory actions in calling Isaiah and in the continuing biblical story of salvation.
Most of us don’t get so a dramatic wake up call to use our gifts as Isaiah did. Most of us will not be on America’s Got Talent. Maybe this poor preacher is all you get. But everyone here has unique talents that can be used in the service of the church and of the world. In all we do, we are always helped by God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God in glory everlasting.
Text: Isaiah 6:1-8 (NRSV)
6 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. 2 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. 3 And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 The pivotsa on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5 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!”
6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraphb touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 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!”
a Meaning of Heb uncertain
b Heb He
 The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. 1989. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.