Sunday, May 30, 2010

Homily for the Feast of the Holy Trinity

John 3:1-17; Romans 11:33-36; Isaiah 6:1-7


In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Liturgical Church Year is a precious gift of God. No, I’m not suggesting that it’s divine and infallible, dropped down from heaven as it were, but, rather, that it is the pious creation of God’s faithful people, the Church, evolving over time in accord with the Church’s faith and confession, doctrine and practice, from Her infancy. The Liturgical Church Year serves as a loving nursemaid, gently reminding the faithful and teaching us about important points of doctrine that, without it, left to our own devices and imaginings, might likely recede into forgetfulness. And, so today, on this Festival of the Holy Trinity, we are reminded of, and are instructed in, the awesome holiness of the Lord God, His awesome glory, the depth of His riches, wisdom, and knowledge, His unsearchable judgments and His inscrutable ways that we might fear, love, and trust in Him above all things.

And, this is a thankful reminder, for we often do not fear, love, and trust in God above all things. Especially, today, Christians desire to not fear God. In popular Christianity, God is perceived to be your “buddy” or your “friend”. Though you can’t see Him or touch Him, He is believed to be “out there somewhere” watching over you, like a ghostly “big brother” or something similar. But, God, as He has revealed Himself in Holy Scripture and in the incarnation, life, suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of His only begotten Son Jesus, and in the pouring out of His Holy Spirit upon His Church, is not so popular today, nor politically correct.

But, this was the God that Isaiah beheld in his vision – perfect, righteous, and thrice-holy. And, Isaiah was overcome with fear, crying out that he was lost, undone, because he, a man of unclean lips, a sinner, had beheld the glory of the Lord, and he knew that he must die, not just physically, but spiritually, eternally – for that is the force of the word that is translated “lost” or “undone”. Those tainted by the stain of sin cannot stand in the presence of the holy God anymore than darkness can exist in the presence of light. Thus, did Isaiah rightly fear the Lord before whom even the holy angels hide their faces. Such fear is the right and reverent worship of the Holy Lord God, and Jesus teaches us to fear, not those who can kill only the body but not the soul, but to fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell. And, that one is our thrice-holy Lord God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Our cultural aversion to fearing God is reflected in our family relations as well. Today, fathers long to be buddies and friends to their children. They are loathe to discipline or even to say “no” to their sons and daughters. But, a child does not need parents who are buddies or friends, what they need are Fathers and Mothers that are to be feared and respected for their discipline and wrath against wrong doing, but even more for their selfless, sacrificial love, mercy, and forgiveness.

Though Isaiah rightly feared the Lord, believing that he was lost, undone, he would come to fear the Lord also for His selfless, sacrificial love, mercy, and forgiveness. Isaiah could not make his own lips to be clean; he could not remove his sin, uncleanness, and impurity. So, the Holy Lord God acted in love and forgiveness, sending a seraphim with a coal from the altar to touch Isaiah’s lips and to purge away his sin and make him clean. Then Isaiah could stand in the presence of the Holy Lord God. What awesome holiness! What awesome love and mercy!

And, what the Holy Lord God did for Isaiah is what He has been doing for his children, His Church, ever since the fall of our First Parents into sin – providing a way for His fallen children to enter, once again, into His holy presence. For this reason, above all others, God is to be feared, because He loves His rebellious children, His creatures, so much that He will not let them perish, but, in selfless, sacrificial love, takes their sins, their impurities and uncleannesses upon Himself, that we might live with Him in everlasting holiness, righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.

But, where is the fear of the Lord today? Our culture, even our Christian culture, has effectively neutered God, making Him sterile and impotent. For many, He has been made to be, at best, a spiritual “buddy” looking out for you, and, at worst, a “watchmaker” god, detached from, and uncaring of, the world and the creatures he has made, content to watch from a distance, but not to get involved. This is not the Holy Lord God of the Scriptures. This is not the Holy Lord God revealed in the God-Man Jesus Christ. This is not the Holy Lord God who poured out His Spirit on Pentecost, giving birth to the Church, a holy people, who may enter His holy presence once again through the blood of the Lamb He provided, His only begotten Son Jesus Christ.

Only God is holy, and only the holy God can make you holy. And, this He has done: Holy God sent forth His only begotten Son in holy love to lay down His life unto death to atone for the sins of the entire world. Holy God poured out His Holy Spirit into and upon His Church that people might receive the free gift of Christ’s atonement through baptism and faith. It is all the work of the Holy Lord God. Only God is holy, and only the holy God can make you holy. And, this He has done: You are holy, set apart, sanctified in the blood of the Lamb Jesus Christ. In Holy Baptism you received the Holy Spirit and the gift of faith. God’s Holy Spirit will sanctify and keep you in the faith unto life everlasting. For this reason, God is to be feared, loved, and trusted above all things.

And, today, people of God, your Holy Lord God continues to call you into His holy presence, making you holy by touching your lips, not with a live coal from the altar, but with the holy, innocent blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Blessed be the Holy trinity and the undivided Unity. Let us give glory to Him because He has shown His mercy to us.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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