Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sermon for Holy Trinity


                   A Thorough Mouth Cleaning
                                 Isaiah 6:1-7

Isaiah finds himself before God and he exclaims, "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.@

You know, I feel for Isaiah. To be before God in all His glory and majesty, I can see exactly why he would say such a thing.  I can imagine myself in his shoes, I can envision how I might have responded, “Heavenly Father, beloved Son, and Holy Spirit; in fits of rage, I have taken Your holy name in vain. In attempts to be funny, I have soiled my lips with profanity and vulgarity. With the mouth you have given me, I have belittled and made fun of others whom you created and for whom Your beloved Son gave His life to redeem in pain and suffering on the cross. Woe is me! I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips.@

 How easy it is to say stuff that we regret. In the heat of the moment, it is so easy to open our mouths and hurt others. How often have people counseled, “God gave you two ears and one mouth so that you listen twice before you speak.” Or, “Think before you open your mouth.”
 
Lest you think this is a new phenomenon, James records that which the Spirit has inspired Him to write some 2000 years ago, saying. Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body. If we put bits into the mouths of horses so that they obey us, we guide their whole bodies as well. Look at the ships also: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are guided by a very small rudder wherever the will of the pilot directs. So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind, but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.  

Dearly beloved of God, this is so very true.  How often has it been that you and I have been hurt, sometimes deeply, by the uncaring words flowing through the mouths and past the lips of others? It hurts even worse when it is from the lips of family members or from the mouths of close friends? Oftentimes, words hurt even more than physical pain.

But lest we caught up in pointing fingers at others, we must remember that as we do so, three fingers point back at our own mouths. When was the last time you told a joke which you would not have told in the presence of your mother or in front of the pastor? How often has your mouth caused you to apologize for your “French”? What words or off color jokes flowing past your lips would have had your parents threaten to wash your mouth out with soap? Which of your friends have you hurt by your mouth revealing a secret? Who has been emotionally scarred by the belittling words, or the vile atrocities which flowed from your mouth?  Which of your enemies has had their name and reputation drawn through the mud, by what has passed through your lips?

Dare I even suggest it, has the mouth by which you have received the precious body of Christ, also spewed forth God=s name without thinking?  Has your mouth, which has drunk deeply of Christ’s precious blood, also had God=s name passed from it in anger and vile cursing?

Indeed, our lips are often engaged without thinking, and in so doing befouling our whole body with ungodly speaking. All too often, our mouths are a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

God=s servant, the prophet Isaiah despaired of the same sins, "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.@ 

It is in the midst of his despair that an angelic messenger flies to the altar and removes a burning coal with tongs, and brings it to Isaiah. He touches the coal to Isaiah=s mouth and says, "Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.@

It is upon the altar that sacrifice is made. God=s heavenly altar holds the most holy sacrifice ever given, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The coal, drenched in the blood of the Lamb, removes the guilt from Isaiah. Christ=s own sacrifice atoning for his sin, and granting him righteousness.

Whenever we gather together to celebrate the feast of the Lord, this text proclaims the truth of that feast. When we gather together around the table of the Lord, we are gathered around God=s throne. In all His glory, Christ reigns upon the table that is He has set before us. With angels, and archangels, and all the company of heaven, we join in the eternal song of praise singing; holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabbaoth. Heaven and earth are full of Your glory.

Christ Table, our altar, was prepared on Calvary when Christ bore the sins of our lips. The cross was the brazier on which the sacrifice was made, the Lamb of God, touched by the flames of hell, and our sins were consumed in the conflagration.

God=s messenger, the pastor, takes the very flesh of the sacrifice and places it into our mouths. He pours from the cup into our lips, the very blood of the Lamb.  He proclaims, take eat, the body of Christ – take drink, the blood of Christ – shed for you for the forgiveness of sin. 

"Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.@  Amen.