Thankful Lips

Lips will be active this week. Smiles will break out as distant families reunite for Thanksgiving.  A big part of the day is the feast that we enjoy with our lips, tongues, mouth and stomachs. Yet it is also a time for us to speak words of thanks to God and others using our lips as the means for such expressions.

All Smiling Lips at the Harvest Festival

The reason “Lips” are my focus is the scripture text that we had in worship yesterday. In Isaiah six, the prophet Isaiah had a vision of God, gloriously enthroned in the heavens. The prophets heard angelic beings rock the temple with their thunderous song, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” As the prophet experienced this vision, he realized his own sinfulness and cried, “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5).

I am struck that Isaiah focused on his “unclean lips.” He might have said “unclean heart,” if his will and emotions were sinful. Or he might have said “unclean hands,” if his actions were the center of his sin. But he centers on the lips and thus the words he and his people have used to betray and deny God. I think of my own “unclean lips” when I profess my utter trust in God in worship but then walk into the world and deny him by the words I use at home or the office. Like Isaiah, I am guilty of “unclean lips” that do not express God’s love and faithfulness on a consistent, daily basis.

Yet the good news in Isaiah six is that our lips can be cleansed. An angelic seraph used a live coal from the altar to touch Isaiah’s lips, cleansing him of sin and guilt. The coal symbolizes the burning love of God that cleans, forgives and restores us. With God’s forgiveness, our lips can become trumpets to declare God’s faithfulness and love.

Yesterday at worship, I showed a short humourous video from Igniter Media that captured how our lips can be changed this Thanksgiving. A preview of the video is here.  As we gather for thanksgiving, may we truly give thanks to God and listen to each other.

How will you use your lips this week?

Lord Jesus, may my lips declare your praise.

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