S-1167 02/07/10 5SAE/3C (O) #489; (S) #32; L.S. #246; #250; #358; (C) #54
Texts: Isaiah 6:1-8; 1 Corinthians 14:12-20; Luke 5:1-11
Theme: “The Taste of FORGIVENES” (Isaiah 6:6-7).
Question: “Do you know the treasure of the Church?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany is from the Old Testament Lesson: “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for’” (Isaiah 6:6-7).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved a long time ago when I was still living in Israel, my mom sent me on an errand at 8:00 a.m., (to buy a thermometer) but I didn’t do it. Instead I wasted the whole day goofing off. When I got home late that evening about 6:00 p.m. she was livid. Told me to wait till my father got home and he will take care of me. When he did, he took care of me alright. I got the severest beating in my life. After the beating, he sent me to the kitchen to eat (since I had not had any food all day). However, I was not in the mood to eat. My sister dished out the meal for me. She asked me to eat and I said, “NO! I don’t want to!” She responded, “I will tell dad.” Sure enough she went and got my father, who was still angry with me. He asked me to eat and I said, “I am not hungry.” He said, “EAT!!!” And I wouldn’t. In His anger he took a spoon full of the dish, opened my mouth and starts shoving the meal in. Another spoonful and I am resisting and gagging. I couldn’t take it anymore, and I got sick to my stomach and everything that went in came gushing out. Till today, I can’t even look at that dish, because it reminds me of the bitter taste that was in my mouth so many years ago.
So many things in life leave a bitter taste in our mouths, and that taste is awful and nauseating. The taste of losing a loved one, the taste of being fired from a job, the taste of flunking a test, the taste of being beaten up, the taste of broken relationships; and the taste of sinning against God. All of these experiences leave their residue on our tongues and hearts. We know all too well the taste of bitterness and sadness that comes our way…OFTEN.
But I am thankful that not all of life is bitter. I thank God for my wife who is a great cook and her meals leave a sweet taste in my mouth. I love sitting down for a meal she has prepared but especially when she fixes that special desert…Pecan pie. Yummy! How delicious to the taste buds that is!!!
Today, our Old Testament reading speaks of tasting not some bitter pill, but the grace and goodness of God. Isaiah is summoned to stand before the Lord. When he does he can’t even describe what he sees—the majesty of God is overwhelming. He is overcome with terror because he is standing before a Holy God. At His sight, he shakes to his inner being and declares. “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” With fear and trembling Isaiah declares, “I am toast in the presence of the Holy One of Israel. I am doomed. I am dead.”
But how does the Lord respond? Not with bitterness but with sweetness—a sweetness that can be tasted. This is how Isaiah describes it: “Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: ‘Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.’” Isaiah tasted the sweet forgiveness from the Lord’s hands. He is no longer a sinner but a saint, he is no longer doomed but delivered, he is no longer afraid, but amazed at the mercy of God’s goodness and graciousness to him.
From the Altar of the Lord forgiveness is given, poured out, tasted and enjoyed. What a blessing for Isaiah to know that his guilt has been taken away and his sin atoned for. That is the message that we need to hear today. That is the treasure of the Church—God’s gift of forgiveness given with the searing coal from the Altar of God-through the Sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
But this forgiveness that was tasted by Isaiah is not limited to him alone. We have so many of God’s children in both the OT. and NT. that have tasted this sweet forgiveness, are basking in this forgiveness and rejoice in knowing their guilt has been taken away and their sin has been atoned for.
· Joseph’s brothers tasted forgiveness after the death of their father by their brother Joseph.
· Peter tasted forgiveness first hand from His Savior’s lips, after he denied Him 3 times.
· The woman caught in adultery and was about to be stoned, tasted forgiveness from the Man writing in the sand.
· The lost son, having squandered his father’s inheritance tasted forgiveness from his own father as he welcomed him back into his house and showered him with all types of gifts.
· And we can’t forget the thief on the cross. This unnamed thief tasted forgiveness moments before he was put to death and died a happy death. PAUSE.
And so do we. We too, taste the sweet forgiveness from the Lord’s Altar by His hand. Today, once again you will taste this forgiveness, not with a searing coal placed on your lips, but the precious life-giving body and blood for the forgiveness of your sins. I know that today is not the day that we are supposed to have the Sacrament of the Altar. I know that we have had it for the last Two Sundays and will be privileged to partake of it yet again next Sunday. But today, yes today you WILL TASTE THE FORGIVENESS ON YOUR LIPS AND IN YOUR MOUTH.
This is the blessing that the Lord gives us continually. The Psalmist put it this way, “Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him” (34:8). How good is the Lord you might ask? Don’t ask me. Ask Isaiah, Joseph’s brothers, Peter, the Adulterous woman, the Prodigal son, the unnamed thief and you will see a most clear picture of God’s mercy displayed on the canvas of human history for all people.
But don’t stop there. Look at your life. How many times has the Lord touched you with that searing coal and taken away your guilt and sins. Don’t doubt it, but rejoice in it…For indeed He has done so on the Altar of the cross, by the greatest sacrifice mankind has ever witnessed—the death of the Lamb of God.
Saints in Christ, there is only one way for sin to be erased and done away with. In fact, it’s already been done. At Calvary when His Son said, “It is finished,” God touched us with that searing coal and announced to the world, “Your guilt has been taken away and your sins atoned for.” His Son’s precious blood paid for every sin of every sinner. Every sin, past, present and future has been dropped in the bottom of the ocean never to arise and convict us again. And the Good News is this: When God looks at me He sees a clean page because of His Son’s blood. I am holy in His sight and so are you.
Isaiah’s unworthiness doesn’t block the Grace of God. Our unworthiness doesn’t block the mercy of God. Isaiah’s tongue continued to be touched and his preaching to the exiled became a comforting message of hope and help. This is the ongoing and continual nature of God to pour upon us His eternal love. It is not a one time deal. He touches us always.
And today, He touches you yet again with the sweet taste of forgiveness. The Apostle John put it this way: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). He has already. He will today, and continues to touch us in the future. Today, though, He comes with the searing coal of love from the Altar, and places it on your lips so that you may know and taste first hand His forgiveness.
I know that many of you may commune once or twice a month. But today is special. Today the Lord once again wants to take your sin away. PLEASE COME. The calendar or schedule should not be your guide. Your sins and the forgiveness that our Lord wants to give you is your guide. Today is your invitation…Won’t you come NOW to the presence of the Holy One of Israel and taste His forgiveness again and anew. Amen.
Now the peace…
Soli Deo Gloria