Bishop's Lectionary Reflection
Trinity Sunday, Year B
May 30, 2021
Often in the Bible, there are no references specifically pinpointing times in history when a certain event takes place. In this reading, however, the prophet is clear about the time. The event that he is about to describe takes place “in the year that King Uzziah died.” King Uzziah’s death was an important marker in the life of Isaiah, so much so that he associates it with another important event in his life – his call – the time when God singles him out for a mission. King Uzziah dies and Isaiah meets in the Temple a King who is even more important. His description of this King’s presence in the temple is of someone whose majesty is almost beyond our human capacity to behold.
· The hem of his robe fills the Temple.
· Seraphs fly all around, six wings – two to cover their face, two to cover their feet and two to actually fly them.
· The presence of this King is so great that the very pivots on the threshold of the Temple shake. The building’s integrity is threatened.
· The place is filled with smoke.
Isaiah’s reaction to the presence of this King is to make contact with his own unworthiness. His unworthiness shows itself to him in a sensation of having “unclean lips” and coming from a “people of unclean lips.” However, his unworthiness is mitigated with heat and fire, purging it completely away. After this purging, Isaiah’s first words from clean lips are, “Here I am, send me.” So in the year that King Uzziah died, Isaiah speaks his first “clean” words which are a request to the Almighty to send him out to do God’s work.
Most of us do not have dramatic “call narratives” such as Isaiah’s. Our transition into our call perhaps happened gradually. But have there been times when you have beheld the presence of the Almighty and experienced His greatness as so overwhelming that you have completely understood your own size and humility in contrast? As you confess your sins to God, and experience His cleansing you, do you have a more clear sense of what He is calling you to do?
This Psalm beautifully picks up the idea begun in the Isaiah text of God’s glory filling the Earth to overflowing. This time God’s glory moves beyond the Temple into the whole Earth.
· God’s glory thunders over mighty waters.
· God’s voice breaks cedars – even the wood of the mighty Cedars of Lebanon.
· God’s voice compels entire countries to skip like playful animals in the field.
· God’s voice causes the whole wilderness to shake (not just the pivots of the foundations of the Temple).
Does God’s voice speak powerfully in your own life? Is there a movement of the Spirit that compels you? Take a few moments of silence to sense that Spirit. Does that Spirit call the whole world?
In this text from Paul’s letter to the Romans, he reminds us of the true nature of our call. We are children of God. This means that we are no longer imprisoned, but free. We have the freedom to inhabit the household of God as one who is completely beloved and who belongs. My friend, Bishop Deon Johnson of the Diocese of Missouri, has a wonderful exhortation for his flock, “Your first name is ‘Beloved Child of God.’ Now, go and act like it!”
Do you know your first name? Do you live your life as if you truly understand that you are a beloved child of God? What does such a person act like? Does such a person live in fear, or in hope and joy?
I have always liked Nicodemus. Even though he comes to see Jesus under the cover of night (suggesting that he might be trying to be deceptive or to hide his actions), there is a certain fresh ingenuous, even naïve, quality to the questions he puts before Jesus. He truly doesn’t understand how a person can be born again! Jesus responds by reminding Nicodemus that he doesn’t understand wind either and that in fact, he can’t even see wind. However, he can see the effects of wind; and through faith, he can see the effects of being born again. As we contemplate our life in the Trinity, we can be born again through water and the spirit and even though we cannot completely see that or even completely understand that, we can connect with the end result – that of being so beloved of God that God would sacrifice everything to win us.
This is the Sunday when we remember and celebrate the Trinity – unity of God which is expressed in three persons – Father, Son, Holy Spirit. It is beyond our comprehension. We cannot see it. And yet, we can see the effects of the Trinity in our lives. We can understand our relationship to God as beloved and we can understand that we have the opportunity to be born again and to start afresh. God so loved you that…
Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity: Keep us steadfast in this faith and worship, and bring us at last to see you in your one and eternal glory, O Father; who with the Son and the Holy Spirit live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.