Sunday, May 22, 2016

What society deems normal is illogical


In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting on a throne high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filling the temple. The Seraphim standing above Him. 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 the other, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the LORD Almighty, all the earth is filled with His glory. Isaiah 6:1-3

ON Trinity Sunday it is meet, right and salutary that we should once again consider who our God is, and what He does for us. Most people don’t want to know God, at least not the Triune God. They offer many reasons for their denial but at the end of the day fear is the driving factor. Why fear? Because even if a person is raised by wolves reason tells him that there is a God who created and sustains all things; a God who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and who holds men responsible for the thoughts, words and deeds of their lives. This proves too much for sinners to bear so denial is a form of self-preservation. It enables people to get on with their lives, eke out a living, and hopefully find a little happiness before the great and terrible Day of the Lord sweeps them away in the sleep of death.

Lest we become overly critical let us remember that Christians also have a sinful nature. That we too can curse and deny on par with Peter who repudiated the Lord at the accusation of a servant girl. Let us remember and confess as sin that we, too, stick our heads in the sand like an ostrich and frequently live like there is no God and no tomorrow. Neither should we judge too harshly because in the last 150 years the blessing of reason, which leads men to recognize the fingerprint of God on everything has been successfully disabled and replaced by propaganda. Today we operate without thought, reason or logic and respond almost exclusively to social indoctrination. Why else would anyone believe in global warming, recycling or peak oil? Or why would reasonable men trade their liberty for a pot of protection? Why else would we patiently endure high prices and high taxes in order to fight wars against poverty, drugs and an ever-increasing number of middle-eastern bogeymen never asking: is this reasonable? can it be done? is it working? where is the progress? when will these ‘wars’ end? and why are we out saving the world when we cannot save ourselves? Why indeed! Because our powers of reason have been stolen from us and our ability to fear, love and trust in God above all things is non-existent.

So what can change all that? What can supply us with the light and truth and the power to live rational and reasonable lives? Only the Word of God, dear Christians, and Isaiah's vision is a good starting point. Consider what this mighty prophecy teaches us about who God is and what He does. Then the light of Christ will replace our fear with faith, restore blessed reason, and aid us in seeing through the clouds of culture that envelope us.

The first thing we find in this lesson is that Isaiah dates his vision in historical time, the year that King Uzziah died, the year 750BC. We should not pass over these words because they teach us the happy lesson that God interacts with us in time and history. They inform us that He does not expect us to reach up to meet Him, which is impossible for sinners, or to deal with Him on the heavenly plane. Instead He condescends to reach down to us in mercy and grace. He did it for Isaiah in this vision, and He does it for us all in Christ.

God’s tender mercy for us is not merely a positive feeling within His heart, but a reasonable reality that took on palpable form, a Word made flesh. It moved Him to act in time and space by sending His Son, just as Isaiah repeatedly prophesied, to purge our sins by His blood and to remove our guilt by His death so that we who are men of unclean lips might have fellowship with the Lord of Sabaoth by faith, so that we too might sing these same Seraphic words: Holy, Holy, Holy to the Holy Trinity as we enter into holy communion with the body and blood of Christ; present among us to remit our sins and make us holy, even as He is holy. We could never want for more, dear Christians, because to be one with God in Christ is to know perfect peace and surpassing joy. As Isaiah writes: Thou wilt keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on Thee. (26:3)

What the angel did for Isaiah with the burning coal, Christ does for us all. By means of His fiery death on the altar of the cross He purged our sins and obtained a storehouse of grace that can never be exhausted, no matter how long or how far we have strayed from mercy, and today is the day of salvation! But the mercy of God is not inert. It does not reside in “the cloud,” waiting for men to find this holiest of grails. Instead it is published abroad by the church’s teaching, preaching, baptizing, absolving of sinners and is distributed to the unclean lips of men with the bread and the wine, so that we might have the remission of our sins, and the blessing of God at all times and in all places.

God’s mercy does more besides. It prepares us for His service even as it did Isaiah. It moves us to pray like Isaiah: Here am I send me, send me. Not that we are all called to be prophets, indeed few of us are, but we are all called to hear the prophets, to believe their words, to sing Holy, Holy, Holy to the Holy Trinity, to fight against temptation and to be men of clean lips, not by what goes into them, but by what comes out; to heed the word of St. James who says: be slow to speak and quick to listen; to ask the Lord to guard our lips so that we might never use the same tongue to bless God and curse men who are made in His image; to seek God’s help to tame our tongues, which though they are small members, have the power to set the whole world on fire; and to learn anew the meaning of the second commandment: that we should not curse, swear, use satanic arts, lie or deceive by His name, but call upon it in every trouble, pray praise and give thanks, to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. May God the Holy Trinity grant us all these things, for Jesus sake. Amen.

~ Rev. Dean Kavouras

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