Reading: Isaiah 6: 1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said:
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.’
The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: ‘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!’
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: ‘Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.’ Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I; send me!’
Uzziah was a good king, and under Uzziah the nation had had stability and peace for once; his death was a time not just of mourning but of increased uncertainty. This is the time when Isaiah (not to be confused with Uzziah!) is called by God, and in his call he has a vision. Although there is an empty throne in Judah, although there is uncertainty in the corridors of power, the Lord remains seated on his throne – not because he is not bothered, but because he is not unsettled. God is still in charge, in control, present, and he calls on Isaiah to see if he will go and speak for him.
We may be somewhat dazzled by the pomp and glamour of a big royal event, but – if you like – the glory of God is ten times more. Not just footmen but seraphs, and not just trumpets but voices such that the building shakes.
Isaiah understands that God is present seated, still on the throne; Isaiah is also reminded that God is holy and utterly glorious, scarily so – how could we dare enter his presence? Isaiah discovers God has a job for him to fulfil.
Today and in the coming weeks may we be assured that despite the changes in our country, despite uncertainties God is present and on his throne. In case we get too preoccupied, may we be reminded of the searing holiness of God, and yet his mercy; and may we respond to his call, “Follow me”, “Love the Lord and love your neighbour”; “serve the Lord with gladness”.
Revd Peter Reiss