Sunday, June 3, 2012

For Those With Unclean Lips...

If Pentecost is an exciting Sunday, Trinity Sunday is bizzaro Sunday.  Or tortured Sunday, depending upon your perspective.  Since my return to church, I have often wondered why priests feel the need to try so hard to "explain" the Trinity.  Especially since they always want to preface their sermons with an apology that what they're giving in the way of an explanation will fall short. 

If that's the case, then why do it?  Because you have to?  Because it's Trinity Sunday and the expectant congregation wants to know the secrets of the Trinity?

I'm not ordained, but I have an answer to this one for the clergy: please don't sweat it. Please don't twist yourself into a pretzel over something that has been debated, annotated, and obfuscated by councils and theologians throughout the centuries.  This is one of those topics which will keep us chasing our non-existent tails.  The way I see it, Trinity Sunday is the final dance of a most amazing story where the dancers are moving so quickly that the three-in-one and one-in-three is so intricately intertwined that we can't distinguish one from the other.  And that's the Trinity as I see it in 2012.

What is of more interest to me was in the reading from Isaiah.  I love the prophets.  I don't think there's a single one of them who has the bravado and self-confidence to say, "Oh, yeah: I'm ready to go out there and tell everyone about God and what God wants people to do."  Every one of them is a person who sees their flaws as if they were being projected on the big screen, and yet they step out and put themselves forward to take the body blows for the sake of Love.   Isaiah is one of those.   He says of himself, "Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" 

"Unclean lips", in this case, is referring to his humanity and the period in which this particular Isaiah was living: Jerusalem at or about the time of the Syro-Ephraimite war... and leading up to the exile to Babylon.  And while the people "spoke" all the right words, the faith in their hearts was questionable; hence the unclean lips.  But here was Isaiah, seeing a vision in the Temple, and yet he felt he was unworthy and now he's seen a vision of God--eek!!   Thus, the seraph touches the hot coal to his "unclean" lips and removes his sin so that when God asks, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Isaiah's mouth opens and he says, "Here I am, send me!"

I know there have been many times in my life when I stood, or knelt, in church and recited all the prayers but had absolutely no connection to them whatsoever.  I wasn't present at all.  I was there because this was what I was supposed to do on a Sunday morning; not because I felt a need to be there.  Such a difference from when I was summoned to "Show up!" in 2007.  It was then that I  found myself blown away by those same words that I had just mumbled along with everyone else every Sunday during my youth.  I didn't have a hot coal touched to my lips, at least not literally.  But I was shocked by the depth of love in the words we were praying, and my voice was surprisingly strong and loud as I sang the hymns.  I was being re-membered into the body that I had turned away from because they had rejected "my kind."  It was as if my adoption was now complete and final, and there would be no separating from God.  The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit could wrap their arms around me in the long-awaited embrace, the same way that the father in the Prodigal Son parable hugged his wayward child.

Trinity Sunday is supposedly the beginning of "ordinary time."  But once I felt that overwhelming sense of being loved by Love, I can't say that anything has been "ordinary" again.  May that be the same for all of you, too!  


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is the best yet. Send to Caroline.