Monday, May 28, 2012

The Church Year and the Lectionary Commentary – Trinity Sunday (Day 1)


Isaiah 6:1-8
6 In the year of King Uzziah’s death, I saw the Lord sitting on a high and exalted throne, the edges of his robe filling the temple. Winged creatures were stationed around him. Each had six wings: with two they veiled their faces, with two their feet, and with two they flew about. They shouted to each other, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of heavenly forces!
All the earth is filled with God’s glory!”
The doorframe shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke.
I said, “Mourn for me; I’m ruined! I’m a man with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I’ve seen the king, the Lord of heavenly forces!”
Then one of the winged creatures flew to me, holding a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips. Your guilt has departed, and your sin is removed.”
Then I heard the Lord’s voice saying, “Whom should I send, and who will go for us?”
I said, “I’m here; send me.”

God’s call to be a prophet is often a difficult, thankless, and sometimes dangerous matter.  Perhaps this is why he gets such an elaborate call and send-off here in Isaiah 6.  If we read on in ch.6 and following, it quickly becomes apparent that the burden of his prophetic message is to announce and enact judgment against God’s people, his people, the people he loved and to whom he owed everything.

This makes Isaiah’s confession and cleansing even more crucial.  He’ll need the courage he can draw from this encounter to stand with God’s Word against his own people.  He’ll need the courage he can draw from this encounter to stand with his people under the judgment his own word will enact.  This is the prophetic crucible – to stand with God against the people and to stand with the people under God’s judgment.  A faithful humility is alone able to sustain a prophetic career.

And it’s the same today as it was yesterday.  Karl Barth spoke to this in his own time of crisis:

“That the zeal for God's honor is also a dangerous passion, that the Christian must bring with him the courage to swim against the tide instead of with it... accept a good deal of loneliness, will perhaps be nowhere so clear and palpable as in the church, where he would so much like things to be different. Yet he cannot and he will not refuse to take this risk and pay this price... he belongs where the reformation of the church is underway or will again be underway.”
 
May we have prophets of this ilk for the church here in its time of crisis in the early 21st century!

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