This is the sermon for the First Sunday after Pentecost—Holy Trinity. The sermon text is: Isaiah 6:1-8. The sermon theme is: Let Us Praise The Trinity. Here is the Written Sermon.
Let Us Praise The Trinity
Ididn’t ask for this. Have you ever had to say those words? A couple of weeks ago we were at a restaurant with our family. And the waitress was carrying several heavy trays to the table next to us. She plopped them down and started to parcel out each plate. The mom and dad had this confused look on their faces. Finally, the Dad told the waitress, “We didn’t order this.”
Today we set aside time to praise our Triune God. But have you ever stopped and asked the question, “how does our Triune God want to be worshipped?” What does the right sort of worship look like? What does bad worship look like? Do you ever wonder if there are times our Lord looks at us and says, “You’re worshipping me this way. But I didn’t ask for this”?
This morning we see the prophet, Isaiah being called into the public ministry. And from all that happens to him and around him we see how our Triune God would like us to approach him in worship. In the opening words of Isaiah 6 we read: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple.” (Isaiah 6:1 NIV)
Isaiah sees the Lord. He sees him from below. For the Lord is high and lifted up. This is not a small detail. This is a massive detail that is good for us to look at. There’s a reason the Triune God was way above Isaiah. Among the many reasons the Lord was above Isaiah, seated on his throne, at the very least we can say that it’s to show Isaiah that our Triune God is above and beyond us in power, understanding and intelligence.
Now, this might seem like the most obvious point to make in a sermon. But it’s not. In these words the Holy Spirit goes out of his way to show us the Trinity. The angels sing “holy” three times. And at the end of this section, listen closely. For when the Lord sends Isaiah to be his prophet he says ““Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”” (Isaiah 6:8 NIV) Did you catch those words? Whom will I send? who will go for us?
The Holy Spirit clearly shows us that there is a Trinity. But notice what the Holy Spirit does not do. He does not explain to you how there is a Trinity. He does not explain to you the inner workings and inner details of the Trinity. No matter how you look at it, 3 = 1 and 1 = 3. It’s horrible math, but beautiful, wondrous theology.
I pause on this fact for a reason. We are tempted today to conclude that if we can’t understand it, then it must not be true. Or even worse, if we cannot understand it, then it cannot be good. There are mysteries in this life which will always remain mysteries. In the New Testament, Luke tells us these words: “1 Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4 Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them — do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”” (Luke 13:1–5 NIV)
There are mysteries which will remain mysteries. The people came here to Jesus wanting to know why there were other people who suffered. Did you notice how Jesus answered their question? First of all, he did not explain this mystery to them. He told them to mind their own business and repent of their own sins.
The lesson Jesus teaches them we take to heart today. It is a mystery why some people suffer and others do not. It is even more so a mystery that the true God is one God in three persons. And we sin when we doubt the truth simply because we’re too dumb to understand it. So also, we sin when we conclude that if we cannot understand these mysteries God is keeping something back from us because of his cold, uncaring indifference. How good and gracious our Triune God is to give to us faith. It is this gift of faith which clings to all these truths. It is this gift of faith will allows us to appreciate the mystery of the Trinity.
So we praise the Trinity first of all by appreciating the mystery. Which mystery? All of them, but especially the one we hear of in these words, the mystery that our God is one God and three persons. But we’re only one verse into these words. And there’s so much more to see: “2 Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”” (Isaiah 6:2–3 NIV)
Isaiah saw the Lord seated on his throne. And above him were Seraphim. On our minor festival of St. Michael and All Angels we’ll be speaking more about these angels. So I won’t speak of them here. What is important for today is what they were saying and singing. One after another these angels sing that their Lord is holy.
Now here is where we need to ask a very important question. What does that word, “holy” mean? When the Seraphim sing that the Lord is holy they mean that he is perfect, completely set apart from sin. He is uncorrupted by sin.
And so, what these angels sing is amazing. But what happens when they sing is amazing too: “At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.” (Isaiah 6:4 NIV)
Every time each one of these angels sings these three words, “holy, holy, holy” the foundation underneath the door shakes like an earthquake. Now what happens from this point is fascinating. Because it doesn’t look like the sort of worship we see across our nation today. We might have expected Isaiah to lift up his hands, with joy in his heart and a smile on his lips and praise his Lord. But that’s not what happens. Listen to what happens next: ““Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”” (Isaiah 6:5 NIV)
There’s no smile on his lips. There’s no joy in his heart. No, instead there is nothing but terror and fear. And if we ask the question, why, the answer is right there in these words. Isaiah says that he an unclean man among an unclean people. He looked at the Seraphim and saw what happened when they were joyful. When they were joyful and sang the ground shook. What damage and punishment could they do when they were angry? And he realized that he didn’t belong there. He belonged there as much as a moth belongs around a campfire.
My brothers and sisters in Christ, learn from Isaiah. There’s a reason why this building doesn’t look like the others you have been in. And the things in it don’t look the same either. There’s no bar with mixed drinks like VFW. There’s no lazy-boy chairs with cup-holders for you popcorn and pop. Churches are built this way to remind you what Isaiah cries out with such pain in his voice. When we come into the presence of our Triune God we come into the presence of his holiness. And we need to appreciate his sanctity just as much as his mystery.
And so, when we come into this sanctuary we come into the presence of our Triune God’s holiness and sanctity. But that’s not all that happens here. In our final verses we read: “6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”” (Isaiah 6:6–7 NIV)
Isaiah cried out in fear and in pain. And the Seraph took the coal from the fire. And he told Isaiah: “Look! I touched you on your lips with this. So, your guilt has been removed and your sin has been covered.” Isaiah could rejoice—and he did. For his sin was taken away. And the result of his sin being taken away was that he could worship and sing to the Triune God because he was declared “holy, sanctified, blameless and righteous.”
My brothers and sisters in Christ, learn from this too. Just as you learned from the Isaiah’s words, so also, learn from the angel’s words. God, the Father now declares that you are holy, sanctified, blameless and righteous. And we have the privilege of seeing how this all took place. We have the privilege of seeing our Savior taking on human flesh and blood to keep the commandments in our place. We see him taking up a cross to pay the punishment we deserved.
And all of this then answers our question. If we started out asking how our Triune God would like us to worship him, here in these words we see the answer. By this great and amazing gift of faith in Christ we appreciate mystery of the Trinity. But even more, we appreciate our sanctity. Yes, you heard me right. We have every joy and right to call ourselves saints. For that is what our Triune God has done. He has declared us holy. And so that is how we worship him. We worship him by humbly accepting the mystery. We worship him by appreciating our sanctity. Amen.
image courtesy of Stockxchnge