Scripture: Isaiah 6: 1-8
Sermon: “The Voice of the Lord”
“I saw the Lord.” These are probably the most powerful words one could utter, for everyone would like to see the Lord, and then live to tell about it. Isaiah did. He saw the Lord and we read with expectation to learn what the Lord looked like. Then Isaiah proceeds to describe where he sat and how high he sat! The closest description we get to what he looked like is the hem of his robe! Seraphs are flying around (what are seraphs anyway, right?) Give me the Lord! What does the Lord look like? You saw him Isaiah, what’s your description? But Isaiah says nothing.
Today is Trinity Sunday. Every year around this time, we get a specific Sunday to do our best to describe the nature of God. Every year, about this time, we discover that even those who were in the sight of the Lord cannot describe God’s nature. At Christmas, we speak of the birth of Jesus. At Easter, the resurrection. Last week was Pentecost, and we talked about the Holy Spirit. And today is Trinity, and we define the Trinity! The word Trinity means three, and one. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This triune God has been reflected upon throughout the history of the church in various ways. Often you’ll see icons with the saints holding their fingers up (like this) and the church fathers interpret this as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. When those in the catholic church or orthodox traditions make the sign of the cross, they are making these motions (show them) in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Today’s Old Testament lesson doesn’t give us God by laying out that Jesus is the Son and the Spirit is God’s Spirit, but rather we get the words “Holy, holy, holy,” said three times! Holy, holy, holy is the Lord. This is said to represent our triune God. There is not just one who is holy, but three! A Trinitarian God is who we worship.
In a Sunday School class one Sunday a little girl was painting a picture of God. The teacher said, “no one really knows what God looks like.” And the little responded without missing a stroke from her brush, “they will when I’m done!” She was a young girl, and her picture of God was portrayed by many wonderful colours weaving through one another. I’m sure God was in that picture, through the wonderful nature that the little girl portrayed.
They mysterious nature of the Lord is precisely why we’re given the teaching of the Trinity. The Trinity is that which was, that which is, and is to be. Peter Gomes writes “The Trinity is the attempt of the church to paint that big picture of God and to understand it in ways that extend and expand the ordinary consciousness.” The Trinity explains the unexplainable!
In our church’s history, we have shared in the words of creeds to declare our Christian faith. The Apostle’s Creed begins with the words “I believe in God the Father, Almighty…and in his only Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Our God is one and three. Gregory of Nazianzus writes, “when I say God, I mean Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” Our worship is full of Trinitarian themes. If you’ve ever sang what’s called the Gloria Patri in church, it begins with the words “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.” Baptisms aren’t complete without the Trinitarian words being said over the one being baptized. This is the name of our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When we say “God” this is what we mean. My husband wrote a book on the Trinity, and so normally I set him up to preach every year on Trinity Sunday. I gave him the day off today. BUT I do remember there was this one year when he preached, and after he was done, this woman found him afterwards and asked “Now..what is the Trinity, exactly?” Jason just said “It’s God!” Good, she said. That’s what I told my husband.
The Trinity is not meant to be simple, but mysterious. Isaiah couldn’t say anything well until the Lord touched his lips. Then he said, “Here am I; send me.” The Trinity is like that in our lives. God is like that in our lives. We feel unworthy, we feel unqualified for the tasks God calls us to, and when we give space for God to hear our cries, and forgive us—we hear and see more clearly. Today we are sending forth our graduates! We pray for their lives, and for their faith. They are being sent out into the world to grow, learn and engage in the world through their own gifts that God has given them. Sam and Ellie, on the days when you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure of what’s ahead, no worries! God will speak through you and give you strength. Clear your head and ask God to be with you, and in the wonderful, mysterious way, our God three in one, will be present with you wherever you are.
Fun Fact: The actual word “Trinity” is nowhere in the Bible. Yes, it is everywhere throughout the Bible. God always and already was Trinity, and this was realized at the Incarnation and at Pentecost. Even though we can define the Trinity by stating that it is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the mystery of the Lord still remains. As hard as we try, we still can’t completely know what “God” looks like.
Isaiah was certainly overwhelmed, to say the least, at the presence of God in his life. When he ‘saw the Lord,’ he doesn’t respond with a no, but a woe.is.me. I am lost! He must confess, be cleansed, then he can hear and see with clarity. Did you notice the image that was used for Isaiah: The seraph cleansing his lips with a live coal!! Now, that is how vibrant and powerful God’s forgiveness is.
Almost as if he overhears the Lord under his breath saying to no one in particular, “who will go for us?” Isaiah with new clarity says, “Here am I; send me.” I’m ready to go explain the unexplainable! St. Augustine once wrote “If you understand it, it is not God.” Jason used this quote with his own parishioners once, and one of them loved teasing him afterwards by saying, “I didn’t understand a word you said!” Good. You got it! Our God is three and one. Indescribable, yet gracious enough that we might receive him into our lives.
We were created in God’s own image, and we are an expression of that goodness—God’s goodness. And just like that little girl who painted God, God always puts part of himself into what he creates. Because we worship a triune God, God comes to us in the flesh and speaks to us and through us in the Spirit. So, when Isaiah responded “Here am I; send me” I think just maybe that wasn’t Isaiah speaking at all…but the voice of the Lord through him. In his own strength, there is no way Isaiah could’ve said those words.
In this world, we need to make a way for God’s voice to be heard. Clear our distractions that bind us down. Name the things that bring us anxiety and clear them away. Hear God, as God draws near. They mystery of Trinity Sunday is also the beauty of God. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.