For prophet Isaiah the extraordinary vision of God that begins in a very specific time and place.  A king who had been on the throne for 52 years, so likely Isaiah had known no other king, whose death brought a shocking change and an uncertain future.  Also, it is pretty clear this vision comes to him in the midst of worship in the temple.    Full of mystery, multi-sensory overload – smell of incense filling the sanctuary, the foundations of the temple shaking,  can’t really see God – only the footstool of God’s throne is seen.  There are strange creatures flying around, the sound of Chanting  “Holy, Holy, Holy…”

The Mystery of God!

Of course we hear this reading this morning because it is Trinity Sunday.  And there is so much happening this morning, I’m not preaching a “Trinity” sermon.  Although one fine moment of Synod yesterday was when, unanimously, with no discussion, we agreed that the Diocese of Kootenay would sign on to the Statement of the Queer Interfaith Coalition and I thought, “Oh, good, I could preach the sermon title I’ve always wanted to preach:  “if God is a Trinity, why are we so binary?” (not my title originally - 

Perhaps it’s a throne room vision for Isaiah, but that is not how most of us encounter or experience or envision Holiness….   It might have been when we’re skiing and the grandeur and beauty of mountains and valleys takes our breathe away.  Or when the simple joy of being with loved ones fills us with gratitude for life.  Or when we look at the tiny fingernails on our new born.  Or when we sing a hymn surrounded by our community.    When we are filled with Compassion for suffering,  or a rage when we see injustice.   Experience of Holiness.  

Whatever the experience of Holiness, it comes with a sense of AWE   -  like looking up at vastness of night sky with stars or aurora borealis dancing, two simultaneous opposite feelings:  our own transitory smallness in the midst of this immensity  as well as a profound sense of Oneness and belonging to the universe.

For Isaiah this sense of awe brought a feeling of unworthiness, not just for himself but for his whole people,   But ( and God does this I think with every experience of Call) the Holy One overcomes this divide– forgiveness and grace, purifying,  burning coals.  God is the one who takes initiative to put us in right relationship with God, the Holy Mystery.  

With that encounter with the sheer holiness of being alive (God, however we name God, and this Holiness), there is always, as with Isaiah,  a sense of call.  A sense that we are being compelled into a larger purpose.  A sense that we are being pushed, drawn, into serving  this Holiness, of serving something much bigger than ourselves.  “Who will go for us?”  says God.   (Of course the “us” here is one of the reasons this is a text for Trinity Sunday).

“Who will go for us?” asks God, and of course Isaiah’s answer is the answer each of us here this morning have answered at some point: 
“Here I am, send me”.

This Transcendent God, this Mystery, and Unknowable God.   I always this of  Alan Jones the former Dean of the Cathedral in San  Francisco, who said:  “The Church is in the dangerous business of domesticating God.”  Yes, we know in Jesus an intimate personal relationship with this God, – Jesus who names his disciples Friends – yes, true, but always, also we cannot control or pin God down or make God in our own small image. 

We Serve the Mystery, energy and vision for service.  And it is earthly service.   

The call is always beyond ourselves to serving community, to use our gifts for the good of the whole. Maybe there is one moment we could say we experience that call, but it is also a lifetime of discovering, discerning how best to put our own unique set of talents and experience into serving a need in whatever situation we end up in. 

I am aware that this weekend we have just finished ACPO the annual Provincial meeting of Assessment Committee for Postulants for Ordination.  When I was chaplain at Vancouver School of Theology students would come back from this weekend and say “good, discernment is finished!  Discernment of our call is an ongoing, life-long process.  I could tell you stories of people on their death-bed who experienced a call to something new.  

At our Synod this weekend we have been inspired by many stories of teams in a parish finding ways to be communities of hope in the midst of a fearful time.  Our theme, to gather as we need community,  “to Encourage each other”, “to provoke each other to love and good deeds”.   

Lots of clergy can tell you about this vision of Isaiah because we have had to write out or speak about “our call”.   Danger, unfortunately is when this has given impression that “the call”  is only for clergy.  All of us when we encounter Mystery, sense of Oneness with the Universe,  all of us experience that inward sense of being compelled to serve in a concrete way. The call of discipleship, the call of all of us is baptismal ministry .  So it is a delight that at the end of Synod we are confirming people in their faith. And with them, we will all renew our baptismal vows.  A way to remind ourselves as clergy, deacons, priests and bishops, that it is the ministry of the baptized that we serve.

Baptism and Confirmation are ways we say to the community we want to live out that response to the Holy Mystery, our Creator, the Life and Love at the Heart of the Universe.  This is highly individual, unique call for each of us.   Frederick Buechner definition of call:  “Where our deepest joy meets the world’s deepest need”.  We often need family or close community that know us well, who are honest with us, to help us name and hone our own call.    Those who will listen carefully and mirror back where they see our own joy and excitement, a sustaining passion that signals this is what we are called to do.  A community that can inspire us to not stay small, to not live out of fear, not just serve ourselves or money or fame or something else transitory.  

Of course occasionally we might have to fight against other people’s assumptions or desires for us, or a society that says we need to make money or have security or be practical.  There is  sadness when I hear later in life someone who says I became a doctor or something because my Dad wanted me to.   “our deepest joy”   

Where our deepest joy meets the world’s deepest needs.  Also, sometimes, call may be where our deepest sorrow meets the world’s deepest needs.  The loss of a loved one to toxic drug supply compels us to become an activist to spur the system for better protection.  The trauma of a fire compels us to safeguard our planet.  Walking with a friend who chooses MAID or the chronic illness of a beloved daughter suddenly shifts us into being an advocate for systemic change.   All of these profoundly personal calls require community support, and they become community calls too.

Community encouragement….I was struck by the many stories we heard at Synod about what God is up to in community, as churches figured out how to serve their local neighbours, how to restructure their church to free them to serve better.   Nobody said “it was simple”.  Nobody said:  “it was easy”.   Some of the stories were of the costly hard work serving our call requires, but that in itself was inspiring, still encouraging – when we see the courage of others it enlarges our capacity to respond as well.  I pray that each member of Synod returns to the place they serve with renewed courage, enlarged hope, expanded imagination about being communities of hope in an apocalyptic time .

I will never forget Sue Basek, priest in Nelson, saying “when we were asked to provide shelter in the church building for people during the cold snap, we first said Yes,  and then we said Um, how do we do that?  You just say yes, and then you figure it out over time” 

Or John Graham, on the video when the reporter asks John, in the face of all the systemic change needed to address homelessness, “Are you hopeful?”  John’s response:  “Always!” 

In the Hopi language, and in some other Indigenous languages, there is no past tense for the word “Called”  - you can’t say I was called,  it is always a present active, continuing verb tense.  I am called…and calls change, expand, more is demanded of us.    Today we are installing Canons!  The call keeps expanding and deepening.  We are  commissioning regional Deans when we are examining structural change to Regions.  When we say yes to a call we do not know all of what  that commitment  will mean!

It is important that the whole community will renew our baptismal vows together as you, the Confirmation candidates, Rebecca and Nicholas, as Barbara reaffirms her Baptismal vows, as we receive Kevin into the Anglican communion.   

Since Lambeth two years ago Bishops have committed to celebrate each occasion with the gift of a tree. If we had a tree here in the sanctuary for each occasion we celebrate today we would have a small forest. I am choosing to give these trees to OAC with your names on it.  

Just as we were ready to start worship this morning I received a text from the ACPO secretary saying that the candidate we sponsored from Kootenay Diocese has been recommended to me for postulancy for the priesthood.  I then called the candidate and said, I will make you a postulant.  May I announce it this morning? Yes.

So, we have been praying for her without saying her name.  Elise Lafleur is now a postulant for priesthood in this Diocese.  Also a sign of hope in the midst of us.


We are called together, to a joyous, hope-filled response to the Mystery of the Holiness of God.  I pray that as each person returns home from this Synod, they return with renewed courage, with renewed hope, that the excitement of the last few days of hearing all those stories will go with us wherever God calls us.  And that we will be able to transmit that excitement and joy, the togetherness of the diocese in our mission, that we will be able to carry that with us. 

May our baptismal vows, as we renew them together this morning, renew our courage.