Now that’s what I’m talking about. This is my kind of God. We’re talking Thor and his mighty hammer. Isaiah stands at the foot of God’s celestial throne. He looks up at God but God is so immense that his line of sight only carries him to God’s waist. The rest of God is too far away to see. God’s robes fill the heavenly temple, fill everything. Seraphim circle about God.
Now, I had to look up what exactly seraphims were in my Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible. Now, before you Millennials go Googling this on your phones, let me explain this for you. The Interpreter’s Dictionary is actually a set of things called books-you know, those hard cover things that have pages filled with writing on them; words that are alphabetically listed with definitions beside each word.
Having said all this, the description for seraphims is rather elusive. What we do know is that they are winged celestial beings who apparently are dancing on the wind around God. Isaiah is the only one who ever talks about them and apparently they have a demonic connection. Before the glory of God. however, these seraphims use one pair of their six wings to cover their eyes for God’s glory is far too great for them to behold. Another pair of wings is used to cover their feet, so God can not see their commonness. Apparently, they use the last pair of wings to fly about with. Smoke billows forth. The whole temple shakes. The cry of the seraphims lifts God’s holiness and glory. God is strong, God is holy, God is glorious.
That’s my kind of God. I want to stand at the footstool of this God and watch as all the nations bow before this God in awe and wonder. I want to see the mighty, muscled right arm holding that staff or hammer of justice, and in the left, cradling a lamb. The God of the weak and gentle, the repressed and dominated to whom the powers of this world bow. That’s my God.
There is only one problem here and this Trinity Sunday exposes it. The doctrine of the Trinity is so complicated and confounding that it gave even St. Augustine, the greatest theologian the church was ever to known, a headache.
But here is the gist of this doctrine for us this morning: God is God, God is Jesus, God is Spirit. Seems simple enough. God is God. The great creator, maker of heaven and earth, full of glory, power and might. Isaiah’s God. Thor- swinging his mighty hammer. Yet, God is also Jesus and it was Jesus’ mission on earth to illustrate for us what God’s power and glory was really all about. For God’s children had forgotten. We have forgotten. Instead of having our hearts transformed by the Spirit of God, we have allowed the values of this world to conform us to what power is. Because we see it all the time. We experience its reverberations every day in our market economy in the corporate America. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t need the ‘Me Too’ movement or ‘Black Lives Matter’ or gay pride parades.
We define power as might. We hail glory as being lifted above and over others. But God-Jesus comes humbly riding a donkey into our lives and says, “No, power never lords over but reaches down and lifts up. Power, is the ability to walk into an emotional leper’s colony and see those in mourning as the blessed, those in their poverty as a blessing to this world, those who thirst for righteousness and work to be peacemakers as those who have a purity of heart. That’s the power of God, that’s the revelation of God’s glory. It’s called Love. Thor, it’s time to drop your hammer.
Yet, the world continues to live in darkness. Our neighbours to the south break off peace talks with the North Koreans which may be, for all I know, for some very good reasons. But then the leader of the free world says that if they do not come back to the table to barter in good faith, they will feel the magnitude of one the greatest military forces in the history of the world. How can peace be built on threats when one group is swinging a bigger hammer than the other. This is not peace. This is repression. A president who refuses to support ongoing NAFTA negotiations because Canada and Mexico have been taking advantage of the States for too long now. There is no glory in the me first mantra. There is no glory when one party is protecting their own privilege.
In the light of God’s glory we sit here and shake our heads in disbelief. And God says, “Who can I send? Who will go out there and declare my glory? Who will put a hand under the chin of humanity and lift their eyes to the source and power of life? Who will go and try to save this world before it destroys itself?” And we see Isaiah jumping up from his seat like a grade schooler thrusting his arm in the air. “Me! Me! Choose me! Me! Over here! I can do it! I can do it!” So chosen he is. But before God sends him forth to declare God’s glory to the world, God does one more thing. God takes a pair of tongs and lifts a coal from the eternal flames of life and places that coal on his tongue. Ouch! That’s got to hurt. It’s meant to for before we can be the ambassadors of God to the world, we need to own dross to be consumed and our gold refined. How can we talk about peace when we harbour our petty grudges and are waiting for them to get theirs? How can we talk about peace until we are willing to say to those who want to crucify us, and believe me, if you try and take the hammer away from those who have gained great privilege swinging it, they will want to crucify you. Yet, until we can pray with Jesus “Lord, forgive them, they know not what they do!”, until we can live with that kind of purity of heart how can we advocate for the Prince of Peace? Ouch! That kind of purification burns.
How can we as a church lift the veil covering God’s Glory when some of our naval-gazing programs keep us from practicing God’s unconditional hospitality. Ouch, that hurts, doesn’t it. I know, I felt the burn, too.
I bow to the wisdom of Ann Weems.
we are playing Pharisees again,
More interested in the Sunday morning count
Than in the feeding of your sheep,
More interested in tradition and appearance
than declaring your glory.
If you are the Lord of Life
then why aren’t we shouting,
why aren’t we really singing,
why aren’t we dancing to the good news?
Why aren’t our feet stamping
the doves flying
our fingers snapping
and our tongues praising
and our hands clapping
and the trumpets blaring
and the cymbals clashing
and the children laughing
and old men running?
Why aren’t we crowning Christ
the Lord of Lords?
Isaiah would have.