A Sermon Preached by Patricia Hatch
June 18, 2014
Isaiah had quite a vision with the Lord sitting on a high and lofty throne with the hem of his robe filling the temple. The angelic six-winged flying creatures called to one another declaring the holiness of the One who sits on the throne. The pivots on the thresholds shook and the temple filled with smoke. I wonder if you were sitting there if you would stay to see what happens or if you would quietly make your exit out the back!
In Isaiah's vision, Isaiah understood his lack of holiness: “I am a man of unclean lips,” he said. He was honestly aware of his condition. He articulated his unworthiness.
But there was a remedy! A seraph flew to him, holding a burning piece of coal. The seraph touched it to his lips and declared him free from the guilt of wrongdoing. Ouch! This is the time when the rest of us might want to slip out the back.
The burning coal prepared Isaiah to hear God's question: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Isaiah answered willingly, “Here I am; Send me!”
How does this passage relate to us today? Isaiah's wrongdoings were holding him back. He acknowledged them and accepted a way for them to be removed. Isaiah didn't slip out the back in his vision. He didn't cover his mouth in protest, even when he saw the burning coal coming at him!
Three steps can help us more fully realize our God-given potential. Like Isaiah, the first step is make an honest assessment of our lives.
What things in our lives hold us back from living the lives of love, service, and co-creation that we are called to live? What is the junk in our lives? Do we clutter our lives with needless busyness? Do we stay in negative relationships that drain our energy? Are we discouraged about some aspect of our lives and yet we don't make a move to improve it? Are we struggling with addictions? Do we have issues with finances, or too much unnecessary stuff? Do we offer ourselves negative self-talk instead of saying good things to ourselves? Like Isaiah, the first step is to be honest.
As Florida Scott-Maxwell said, “You need only claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality.”
The second step is to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings and accept God's forgiveness. When you think of something you did or said that you wish you hadn't, or think of something that you wish you had done, you can say, 'I forgive my younger self.' Or 'I have compassion on my younger self.' This works better than simply saying that you forgive yourself. By noting that it was your 'younger self' that was responsible, you are acknowledging that you know more now, even if what you know is simply that you now know how you feel about what you did or didn't do. This works even if your younger self acted (or neglected to act) only a week ago, or a day, or an hour ago.
The third step is to take action. In Isaiah's case, his action was only to accept to the Seraph's remedy. In our cases, decisions and elbow grease are usually required.
And then, as we clear up the junk in our lives, with God's help, we are at an even better place to be a force for good in the world. We don't have to have all the junk cleared out of our lives to be a force for good in the world. I am thankful God uses imperfect people! However, clearing out the junk helps. It makes us lighter and happier and more free.
Our lives are kind of like windows. The clearer our lives are, the more brightly the light can shine through us. The light of God's love shines through dusty and dirty windows. More light shines through when you start wiping. However, when we thoroughly clean our windows so that they are squeaky clean, how much more brightly the light can be seen!
And as we engage this process by honestly assessing our lives, accepting forgiveness and forgiving ourselves, working on clearing out the junk, we will become more and more ready to be of service. We will become more and more ready to say to God, “Here I am, send me” as a messenger of love and kindness to a hurting world.