under the folds of the hem – a reflection on Isaiah 6:1-8

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Lectionary / Major Prophets / ministry resources / Religion / Temple / Theology / Year B

The following is a reflection on Isaiah 8:1-8, the Old Testament lesson properly appointed for Trinity Sunday, Year B, according to the Revised Common Lectionary.

The vision of Isaiah has always captivated me. It informs my vision of God’s Heavenly Kingdom perhaps more than anything else.

It’s grand. Regal. Sweeping.

The hem of his robe fills the temple. There’s movement of strange and mysterious six-winged creatures. Smoke hangs in the air, and probably the sweet smell of incense too.

And yet, with all the power and wonder that is conjured up in this vision, the voice of the Lord calls out…wondering where He can get some help.

I find it disorienting that the Lord here doesn’t just send. He doesn’t just give commands.

He asks for help. ”Who will go for me?”

I read this, and the tone that I hear is that of a plea. As if God expects no one to answer. As if He knows already that the only sound in response that He’s likely to hear, is the sound of his own echo.

Now, perhaps you hear a different tone. Maybe there was an army of sentinels ready to spring at the opportunity. ”I’m your man, Lord!” ”Put me in, Coach!”

But, if that were the case, I can’t imagine how the voice of Isaiah would ring through the crowd. How small must he have been standing there in the temple? Was he under one of the folds of God’s robes? Hiding behind a column? Standing outside on the portico?

And, how does he summon the courage within him to speak up?

Such a scene would, in my estimation, be so intimidating so as to cause most anyone to clam up. Who even makes a peep in the presence of such power and under the weight of such awe?

But, little Isaiah found it within himself to speak up.

”Here I am! Down here! I’m just a little thing…powerless to do much of anything, Sir. But, I’ll go. For you, I’ll do anything.”

Could we ever summon such courage? Such chutzpah?

Could you?

In this reading, the vision of Isaiah isn’t just regal; it’s inspiring. Isaiah isn’t dumbstruck. He’s compelled. He’s inwardly moved to do something for God.

We spend a lot of time in churches on what happens on Sundays. We want it to be awesome. And dynamic. And “real.” We want the music to come together. Perhaps we want to capture the grandeur of God. Or, perhaps we want to be hip.

But, whatever we do, and however we do it, what we absolutely can’t afford to do is drown out the voice of God calling His People into action. Nor can we drown out the one who is inspired to answer the call, no matter how faith their voice.

Because, when we take away the lights, and silk fabrics, and organ pipes, and drums, and projection screens, and silver chalices…really it’s the hem of His robe which fills our spaces. And when we take a moment of silence, it’s God’s voice which asks us to go for Him.

So let’s hear that voice, and let us go.

Put me in Coach.

The Author

follower of Jesus, father of two, husband of one, Episcopal priest, with one book down, one blog up...surrounded by empty jars of nutella


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