Trinity Sunday Sermon 2017

Here I am, send me! These words of Isaiah the prophet answer this question posed by the Lord at the end of the Old Testament lesson, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah’s affirmative answer here occurred only after what we read in the previous verses of Isaiah 6. We live in a culture that wants answers and solutions to problems immediately. We do not like dealing with the preliminaries that need to occur before making decisions and the time it takes to see the path through to conclusion. Even after making decisions, as seen in the history of Scripture and in the Church, it is merely the beginning of a long journey of doing God’s work. Trinity Sunday is an important day in our Christian Year as it sharpens our focus on our faith received by God through Holy Scripture. It is important to know what God has revealed of Himself in His Word and to articulate that faith as we fulfill the Great Commission to tell the world about the saving work of Christ. Trinity Sunday is a beacon mark we arrive at every year as we continue the long process of learning and proclaiming the faith in love to all conditions of people. Trinity Sunday arrives every year like the hands on a clock to remind us that God works in His time through our lives of faith by His grace. In this, He instills patience by the marking of His time by the glorious events of redemptive history. Each year we mark is a tiny bit closer to the fulfillment of all things, to the coming of Jesus Christ in glory to judge the living and the dead. Such marking of time in the long term is critical as we live the faith through working issues of the faith out in the Church on the personal level, the national level, and the universal level. How long did it take the Church to fully deal with the Arian heresy of the 4th century even after the Orthodox position prevailed at Nicaea in 325? It took decades longer before Arianism lost its majority status and the Orthodox faith again took precedence. Our call in maintaining the faith and of contending against falsehood is long term. The here I am, send me moments are moments with a background and with a lifetime ahead mentality. This morning as we celebrate faith in the Holy Trinity, let us re-kindle how the Lord prepares us to embark on fulfilling His call to promote the received faith in love and respect.

Confront with the Glory and Worship of God. Isaiah 6:2-4

            First, God confronts us with His glory and majesty through His worship. This worship was manifested in the heavenly vision seen by Isaiah in the Old Testament reading. In this vision of heavenly worship, we are confronted with the calls and singing of worship, the impact on the senses of worship, and His majesty over all creation regardless of the condition of the audience.

            In Isaiah 6:4, we read of Isaiah hearing the following, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” St. John in our lesson for the Epistle in Revelation 4 heard two utterances of heavenly worship. Revelation 4:8 states, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” Further, verse 11, “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” The sounds of worship convey awe and reverence. The worship of the Church going back to the Old Testament reverences God through our voices. The language of worship should be such that confronts us with glory and love for God. In such as you noticed in these three verses from our lessons, they all were God centered. When the language of worship starts to drift inward toward the needs and the feelings of the worshipper as more important than a God focus, all sense of the challenge to submit are erased.

            In Isaiah 6:4, we encounter how more of the senses were confronted in heavenly worship, “And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke.” We encountered similar descriptions in our passage from Revelation 4. Worship that patterns what is found in heaven and passages of Holy Scripture such as these hit all the senses and bring us to a healthy fear of God. Regardless of the condition of the person confronted with God’s majesty in worship, the message is clear that God is over all. Psalm 29:2 conveys one such reaction to the Lord and His might, “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” Worship is meant to glorify God through sights, through smell, through the physical motions of standing, sitting, and kneeling, through hearing His Word read, through singing His praises, through prayers, and through taste. All of these help us in knowing God as He has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture.

Repent and Submit to Him

            The result of being struck by the awe and majesty of God through the work of the Holy Spirit is to repent and submit to Christ as King and Lord. Chiefly, we come to allegiance to Jesus Christ over all other things, over self. In this being brought low by His majesty, we come to a point of needing to repent.

            Isaiah came to this point after witnessing the heavenly worship with these words in Isaiah 6:5, “‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Isaiah as a man called to be a Prophet of the Lord most probably was a decent person compared to others in Judah at the time. From a human perspective, we would probably concur with this call of God upon his life. Yet, no matter the person, no matter how well mannered and moral, when confronted with the sheer glory of God on His throne being worshiped, the response is the same; to submit and repent.

            Further, the conclusion of the Gospel lesson in John 3 echoes what repentance to Christ looks like in our lives, “that whoever believes in Him may have eternal life.” This is not mere assenting belief as even the demons have and tremble as St. James relates. No, this is the faith enabled by God’s grace to call upon the name of the Lord in confession to Christ of our sins for Him to cover forever by His life. Repentance is thus a most important part of Christian worship. Where it is found, humility is encouraged. Where repentance is cut out, pride steps in to teach us to rely on self over Christ.

Absolution

            Coming to Jesus by faith through repentance is met not by a timid response. It is met by an assured and full pardon and absolution of our sins, declaring us as God’s and thus forgiven and redeemed. Isaiah 6:6-7 provides God’s response to Isaiah’s confession, “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’” In hearing this forgiveness, the burden of the weight of sin is taken from us, leaving us free to serve and love the Lord and each other. The cycle of worship from earliest of times has been at the heart God’s majesty that conveys our need for God, His grace that calls us to repentance and His forgiveness, and faith to go forth. Worship is patterned week after week, year after year to repeat these truths to strengthen us and encourage us to spread the Gospel in loving submission.

Going Forth

            The response of Isaiah to the Lord’s question is only possible through the preparations of the Lord that we have read about in Isaiah 6. Going forth to proclaim the loving faith in Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is such that only is possible in the humble and penitent. In our propensity to sin, we are prone to the extremes of pride through approaching others as “good” or “better” in our own strength compared to their wretchedness. In this spiritual pride, the message of the Gospel is clouded by the false views of people that think they are better than those they encounter. This is not a life of submission to Jesus Christ.

            Going forth is simply according to the Word of God in humility and the love of Jesus Christ. Trinity Sunday teaches us the value of marking time centered and submitted to Almighty God. We go forth in His love and strength. We do not go forth in our own power and might. Periodically, we need to be pinched and reminded of the glory and majesty of God through holy days such as Trinity Sunday where we are reminded of who we are in Christ.

            When we go forth in the name of Christ, let us do so according to His Word. Let us be reminded through our worship that God confronts us with His majesty and awe through all the senses that teach us humility. In this humility and love, let us truly go forth from this house of worship to reach the world with His truth in all love and respect. We are His messengers that have been called to such. Here I am, Send me. Amen.