Soren Kierkegaard tells a parable of a community of ducks waddling
off to duck church to hear the duck preacher.
The duck preacher spoke eloquently of how God had given the ducks
wings with which to fly.
With these wings there was nowhere the ducks could not go, there
was no God-given task the ducks could not accomplish. With those
wings they could soar into the presence of God himself. Shouts of
"amen" were quacked throughout the duck congregation.
At the conclusion of the service, the ducks left, commenting on
what a wonderful message they had heard -- and waddled back home.
Ahh! In the reading of today’s text we find a classic outline
of right worship where it begins with praise, moving to confession,
forgiveness and commissioning to a prophetic commissioning.
Isaiah experiences an unadulterated worship in the most awe-inspiring
way. How is it that this can happen? That probably is a pastor’s
heart desire - that each person in worship, including themselves,
would have an Isaiah experience. And i say including themselves
because it happened in 2 Chronicles.
Reminding me of 2 Chronicles 5:
The temple was finished and the arc of the covenant was in place.
The people were finally able to give God a stable place in their
lives. They found a place of order and a place of permanence. They
came to celebrate God.
13 it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves
heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the lord, and when
the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical
instruments, in praise to the lord, "for he is good, for his
steadfast love endures forever," the house, the house of the
lord, was filled with a cloud, 14 so that the priests could not
stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the lord
filled the house of God.
How can we make ourselves into people who come in waddling and
go out ready to fly? Would you like to have an experience in worship
like Isaiah’s worship today – where the presence of
God changes you?
Isaiah prophetic service
Isaiah’s, whose call to prophetic service came during an
annual celebration of worship, encounter with God was so profound
that afterward he could no longer see himself or his people in quite
the same way. To Isaiah it seemed that the entire building shook
with the presence of God.
But have you ever wondered about the others who were present during
that same worship service? Did they have a similar experience to
isaiah's? Did this act of worship affect how they viewed themselves?
How they viewed God? How is it that two persons can hear the same
music, the same prayers, the same sermon, and one of them be utterly
transformed by the experience, while the other is unmoved?
Isaiah wrote in his prophecy what happened when he went to worship
at the temple. He had a significant encounter with God.
What makes the service of worship a profound encounter with God
for one and a routine ritual for another?
What happened to Isaiah needs to happen to us every time we come
Transition; but in the text today we can see that we can bring
ourselves into a place of awareness of God’s presence.
Glad surrender :
1 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. 2 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.
Isaiah has come into the presence of our holy God.
The hem of his robe is filled the temple. The hem of the robe –
represents a place of a healing power, a place of awe. Remember
the woman with an issue of blood thought if only she could touch
the hem of his robe.
Walter Bruggemann in his Isaiah commentary says that the activity
of the throne room in this text is one of glad surrender. I love
that – glad surrender.
What does that mean glad surrender?
Carried things through the week
We are coming face to face with a holy God – we are glad
to surrender the things that we carried throughout the week.
Glad surrender means that we come gladly surrendering ourselves
to what God might want to do in the midst.
Leave our cares behind
Leave the noise behind
Leave our anxieties
I heard about a fellow who woke up feeling like one big wound.
He immediately went to his doctor's office and said, "doctor,
everywhere i touch it hurts. I touch my left shoulder it hurts.
I touch my right shoulder it hurts. I touch my leg it hurts. I touch
my head it hurts. I touch my chest it hurts. I touch my foot it
hurts. Everywhere i touch it hurts. Am i dying?" after a quick
examination, the doctor said, "i know what your problem is-your
right index finger is broken."
For some of us life hurts all over – we come and we turn
to God here in worship.
Take a moment
What are you leaving behind in your life?
Let’s take a moment to close our eyes and begin to think
of the things that we carry here today. Let God’s healing
presence flow through your spirit and give you peace.
Able to release it – order in our worship
You see we can come and do that because the order of worship allows
us to do it. There is something about order that gives a place of
rest. It allows us to enjoy and release the things that are going
on in our lives. It is not about control or a need to know what
is going on but it allows us to rest in God right here and right
And we come surrendering ourselves – gladly to God’s
holiness to God’s grace and forgiveness. We come for comfort
and truth and we come gladly surrendering ourselves. The room is
filled with God. We come to sit in the midst of a holy God.
Sense of Isaiah
We are getting a sense of Isaiah and his understanding of God –
God is holy. He comes with a reverence here to the temple. We come
wanting to experience all that God wants to give us.
We are glad to do it. And in the midst we are free to hear and
let God speak to us in the ways that only God speaks to us alone.
And in that glad surrender – we allow God an opportunity
to enter into those places where we have had a week of chaos --
of disappointments – of our pain and sickness – too
many things on our plate and we come surrendering all to a holy
In that place of glad surrendering, we begin to sort out our lives.
What does the events all mean?
In that glad surrender, we become aware of our need for God. We
need God in the midst of our disordered lives. During the week,
we may not see it but in worship we see it. It is a place of stopping
and God’s presence brings us to it.
Isaiah sees it. He suddenly understands who he is. It dawns on
him. He comes face to face with his own stuff.
5 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!"
Isaiah says in this NRSV, “woe is me! I am lost.’
In some translations, it says, “I am undone .” He’s
come undone – unglued - unraveled – exposed.
The elderly priest, speaking to the younger priest, said, “it
was a good idea to replace the first four rows of pews with plush
bucket theater seats. It worked like a charm. The front of the church
always fills first now.”
The young priest nodded, and the old priest continued, “and
you told me a little more beat to the music would bring young people
back to the church, so i supported you when you brought in that
rock ’n’ roll gospel choir. We are packed to the balcony!!”
“Thank you, father,” answered the young priest. “i
am pleased that you are open to the new ideas of youth.”
“However,” said the elderly priest, “i’m
afraid you’ve gone too far with the drive-thru confessional.”
“But, father,” protested the young priest, “my
confessions and the donations have nearly doubled since i began
“i know, son, but that flashing neon sign, “Toot ’n’
tell or go to hell,” just can’t stay on the church roof!”
Isaiah confesses – God’s spirit evokes it. He comes
Holiness evokes it – Isaiah in chapter 1
God’s holiness evokes our very thoughts and we come face to
face with our stuff.
That is what happened to Isaiah. In chapter 1, Isaiah condemns
the sinfulness of the nation of Israel. And now he realizes his
own sinfulness. He realizes that he is not better than the rest
of his people.
Our smallness meets the greatness of God
God’s presence touches those places and in the midst we confess.
We're talking about our smallness in the midst of God's greatness
here. We're talking: "there's no way we can have this kind
of encounter while continuing to entertain notions of our own grandeur
So we relinquish our need to be right, or to have control –
our judging - the things that are born out of our ego – out
of our own needs.
Not always a warm and fuzzy
It becomes a place of confession. It is not always a cozy place
- God does not give us this experience for our pure enjoyment.
God’s holy presence transcends our own self-importance, our
own superiority, our independence, our need for control and power
and we cry, “woe is me.”
Confession is good for the soul – God knows this –
even if we have a hard time with it.
I remember a time when i was doing some things in my church as a
lay member – i was very active and loved the church. I remember
something happened in one of my ministries where someone new in
the church became involved in one of the ministries i began. She
changed it all around and put it the way she wanted it, i was really
I remember on Sunday in worship; i had this in my spirit and i
began talking to God about it and saying to God if i have ever done
that to anyone, to let me know. All of sudden God gave me an exact
event that i did that to someone else. God gave me a truth right
in the middle of the worship and after that i went directly to the
person and spoke to them about it. It was about two years later
that i recognized it but God began to open me to an understanding
of my own sinfulness.
We become aware of the things that are keeping us from God.
The things that God is trying to do in us - we come and relinquish
ourselves in worship and in the midst God fills our souls with truth.
It is a transforming presence. Isaiah is changed – we are
In his awareness, Isaiah recognizes God’s grace and mercy
and he is changed. There is a change that happens that we can believe
that a holy God is a God who calls us to a higher place of living,
a place of freedom and in that freedom we are transformed to love
more, to care more, to give more.
We love as God loves and give mercy as God gives mercy.
Illustration: suicide of a young man
I remember years ago a woman who i knew lost her grandson to suicide.
Suicide leaves us feeling out of control, doesn’t it? For
me it does. Why didn’t we see the signs? If we could have
known, maybe this might not be. It is discouraging.
I attended the funeral service for this young man. It is sort of
a glad surrender to God, isn’t it? We don’t know how
to cope and what to do or say. It is all so disturbing. We sit and
hope that we will get some relief in this place. We are sitting
in the presence of God and we are all experiencing grief in a different
Maybe Isaiah was feeling a great loss of his known at the death
of his king.
Suddenly as the preacher began to read the scripture passage titled
God’s everlasting love (romans 8:38-39 esv)
For i am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers,
nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor
depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate
us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our lord.
As the scripture passage was being read, the presence of God began
to fill the room. It began to fill the people of the room –
i know it. I began to praise God and all of these words of praise
began to flow from my spirit and i sat praising God and the people
in the service began to weep.
It happened just like that and i realized how in our time of grief
and sadness, God comforted us in holiness – God filled our
souls with his presence that we were moved. We became aware of our
need for God – we couldn’t go it alone – we needed
We are changed with a greater understanding for God and humanity.
Sometimes it happens serendipitously to us, purposeful for God.
For no apparent reason or understanding God’s presence will
manifest itself in a glorious fashion.
Worship is the one place where God can reach us
I want to tell you that worshiping God can go on anywhere but one
day you are going to have an experience in worship that you will
never forget. And you will realize how sacred and wonderful this
time of the week is – not just for fellowship, not just for
enjoyment and entertainment but in a real face to face with God.
We come and
offer glad surrender to God of the things we are going through
In that surrender we come to an awareness that we need God –
in all our attempts to tackle life our own way
- We need God – we come face to face with ourselves
We realize that in that place – God changes us – we
We no longer are the waddlers that waddled in but we are the ducks
who fly with a transformed heart