Sunday, February 10, 2019

Isaiah 6:1-8; The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany; February 10, 2019;

Isaiah 6:1-8; The Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany; February 10, 2019;
Life in Christ Lutheran Church, Grand Marais, MN;
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “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!” 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.” And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”” (Isaiah 6:1–8, ESV)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
With Uzziah dead, a change was coming to God’s people in Israel. Uzziah was a good and powerful king. He held the Assyrians a bay. He helped the people prosper. The new king Ahaz was not good or powerful. He was controlled by his wife Jezebel. God gives Isaiah the prophet a vision and updates his call. He has been preaching and teaching already. Now things will be different. The security of the people is threatened. But they aren’t going to listen. The prophet’s words will go unheeded. And not just evil king Ahaz but the people, too. Isaiah’s updated calling will be difficult.
So we have God’s vision to Isaiah. He is high and exalted on a throne. Seraphim and Cherubim call out praises to God. “Holy, Holy, Holy! YHWH Sabbath.” Everything shakes. There is smoke that fills the house of God. The angels are addressing God in Trinity and Unity. Three persons, thrice holy. God of Armies.
There is nothing for Isaiah to do but die. No one can see God and live. Even Moses had to be hidden in the cleft of a rock, just to survive God passing by. Isaiah sees God in his holiness, the angels that swarm around him. Isaiah knows his place. He has been given job of speaking for God and yet he recognizes his own sin and failure. He sees his sin clearly. He sees the sin of the people he preaches to also. A sinner in the hands of an angry God is doomed. Lord, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Lord, have mercy!
God is mercy. He forgives. He gives his own righteousness. God sends forgiveness in with a burning coal. The messenger touches Isaiah’s unclean lips and restores them. “Your guilt is taken was; your sin is atoned for.”
Isaiah responds to God’s call and forgiveness. Forgiveness has refreshed and revitalized him. He is restored as God’s mouthpiece. He is strengthened to face Ahaz with the message of God’s coming discipline. “Here I am. Send me!”
God calls, not just prophets, but all his people. He calls them to live and work and play in particular places among particular people. Isaiah didn’t deserve to be called by God. He was a man of unclean lips, who had failed in his calling many times. We do not deserve God’s calling either. We have not chosen God, but he has instead, chosen us. He chooses because he chooses, “without any merit or worthiness in me.” He chooses and places us in places to serve; bankers, teachers, farmers, parents, students, missionaries, and even pastors. Chosen and placed, called and given tasks to do in our calling. And like Isaiah called to speak, called to give the Good News of forgiveness found in Jesus Christ alone.
We are unworthy. We are sinners. We deserve God’s anger and punishment. Woe is us! We are people of unclean lips. We see God’s holiness and our sin.
I, a poor, miserable sinner, confess unto You all my sins and iniquities with which I have ever offended You and justly deserved Your temporal and eternal punishment. But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them, and I pray You of Your boundless mercy and for the sake of the holy, innocent, bitter sufferings and death of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ, to be gracious and merciful to me, a poor, sinful being.
We come before God’s throne pleading repentance, remembering that we have been made God’s very children in Holy Baptism. God puts his very name YHWH on us. And where God’s name is there is forgiveness. And we receive forgiveness by the touching of Christ’s body and blood to our lips (a far sight better than a burning coal!). We are given the righteousness of God. Clothed in the white robe of Christ. All that he did for us. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Your punishment done. Hell is not to be your destination. God declares to you and me “Your guilt is taken away; your sin atoned for.”
“Here I am, send me!” is our response. We are called in our baptism. Forgiveness refreshes and revitalizes us. We are restored as God’s mouthpiece. We are strengthened to face a world that is increasingly hostile to Christianity. And we are called as who we are. We all have unique talents and abilities to serve. Some serve as missionaries. Some serve as teachers. Some serve as friends and family. All called and placed to serve, placed to show God’s love and mercy. You are called to be God’s children in the world exactly right now where he has placed you. Each one of you uniquely placed in a family, a job, next to a friend, to serve. To be the best husband, wife, father, teacher, student, government worker, mechanic, builder that you can be.
For we are [God’s] workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, ESV)
God calls you to this work. He may not call with burning coals or bushes, visions of glory in the temple or even voices in the night. But he does speak to you in his Holy Word. He does come to you in Word and Water and Bread and Wine in a real presence that you can see and feel and taste and touch. We see our sin clearly proclaimed to us. We confess it and receive God’s pronounce forgiveness. And we are touched directly by God with forgiveness, individually. The Holy Spirit works in us faith in Jesus as the one who has brought that forgiveness through his death on the cross and resurrection. He enables us to live as God’s people among a world of people with unclean lips among a people who will be slow to believe. And the Spirit draws us close to Jesus, the Word of Life himself.  He provides direction and purpose, and changes in our callings.
Job changes place us among new people. Marriage and children give opportunities to teach a new generation directly. Grandparents can show God’s love in ways that parents are unable. Some are called to change their lives and move to a foreign mission field. Some are given the means to support them. Some are called to serve simply in work of service. Wherever we are, whenever things change, we follow God’s leading with the humble response, “Here am I, send me!”
In all of it we are called in our baptism to be God’s children. He has placed us in the world, specifically where and when we are. Each one of us is called to be in this world as God’s children, loving, helping and serving those he puts before us. And in that service we also bring the Word of comfort and hope. Jesus Christ has died on the cross for all your sins. Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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