In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." At the sound of their voices the door posts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. "Woe to me!" I cried. "I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty." Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, "See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for."
(Common English Bible)
"God is great. God is good. Let us thank him for our food." We learn these words as a child, and sometimes repeat them as our mealtime prayer even into adulthood. In fact, some of us never get past these words. They become our prayer for meals, and the only prayer we can truly pray with confidence, sometimes without even thinking about it.
We hear as children rip through this prayer as they anxiously await their favorite food or snack. Sometimes we tease our children that God must know shorthand because they say the blessing so fast that it becomes a long blur of words rather than a moment to truly pause and give thanks to God for all the blessings of food and family.
But sometimes, even though we know the prayer, we forget the concept. God IS great. Isaiah had a vision of God's greatness that he described in detail. Wrap your minds around it for a moment if you can. In Isaiah's vision, God is so great that just a thimble full of the hem of God's garment completely fills the temple. Isaiah comes to the same response as we do when confronted by God's greatness: he recognizes his own failure to live up to being made in the image of God; he recognizes his sin.
Think about a time when you have gone into a place so sparkling clean that you felt dirty in comparison to it. I went into a famous upscale hotel restaurant once where even the restrooms were sparkling and spotless, and an attendant was waiting with fresh warm hand towels to assist with keeping hands sparkling and clean. In this place, I felt both awestruck and unworthy, and this was only a restroom. How awestruck and unworthy Isaiah must have felt in God's presence in this vision. And this brings him to the point of confession and cleansing, repentance and renewal so that his dedication to service is born out of a loving response to God's grace rather than out of a sense of guilt and condemnation if he doesn't carry out God's mission.
When have you known God's love and grace in such a powerful way that it sparks in you a response of obedience? Will you open eyes to see God's glory which fills the whole earth, knowing that your sin was forgiven nearly 2000 years ago on a hill called Golgotha? And like Isaiah, will you respond, "Here I am, Lord. Send me?"
Rev. Jan McCoy is the Associate Pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org