Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Isaiah 6: Holy, holy, holy

"In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train 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 flew one of the seraphim to me, having in his hand a burning coal which 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 forgiven.'

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then I said, 'Here am I! Send me.'"
- Isaiah 6:1-8 (RSV)

The first thing that strikes me about the call of God to Isaiah of Jerusalem (or "First Isaiah" as he is known by contemporary scholars) is that when placed in the presence of Almighty God, the prophet is overcome with a sense of his own inherent sinfulness, unworthiness, and inadequacy. How can a mere sinful human being be in the throne room of heaven, in the very presence of our Creator and Lord?

Isaiah is, after all, only worthy to speak the word of the Lord after his mouth is scorched and cleansed by divine fire.

Christians have historically believed that each Lord's Day as we gather to worship God as the Body of Christ, we are also in the presence of the Almighty, and that our sanctuaries are earthly reflections of that divine throne room.

Does our worship reflect that reverence?

Are we awed by the presence of God?

Are we overcome with unworthiness and inadequacy as we enter into the presence of the Holy One of Israel?

Do we remember that the God who is with us and is immanent is also far beyond and above us and is completely transcendent, entirely different from us, "wholly Other"?

Are we too comfortable with Almighty God?

Is he too much "our buddy" and not enough "the LORD God of hosts", whose very name is too holy to speak?

Too often, we enter worship as a routine...traditional worship gone stale.

Many enter worship gleefully, as if the Super Bowl party is about to begin...contemporary worship gone mad.

While joy and celebration are certainly proper Christian practices, we should never allow our worship to be so "Happy, happy, happy" that we forget "Holy, holy, holy".

1 comment:

Brett Probert said...

Man, that will preach. That is one thing I appreciate about our Roman Catholic and Orthodox bros and sisses is their awe of God! We could learn something here!