Sunday, 5 September 2021
Monday, 30 August 2021
Sunday, 22 August 2021
Sunday, 6 June 2021
Sunday, 30 May 2021
Friday, 28 May 2021
Today I want to revisit the powerful vision given to Isaiah. In Sundayschool this reading used to scare me with its images of a very scary angel and burning coals being put into Isaiah’s mouth! And yes, it is scary in a way, but it is awe, not fear that Isaiah is feeling. And he is overcome by the power of the vision of the angel that speaks more than words about the mystery and wonder of the Divine. He is overcome by the holiness that is in front of him so much that he feels unworthy of the vision. The response of the angel is not to reject him but, understanding his feelings, to give him the gift of the coals.
Yes, it is a gift. A strange one perhaps. But it is another mystery that somehow enables Isaiah to feel that he can exist in the presence of this powerful mystery. And moe than that, it enables him to feel that he might even be worthy enough to take a message from God to the people who need it. And what is the message?
It is in the vision at the end of the reading where God tells him that the people will end up like dead trees, even like a stump. They will feel dead and betrayed and lost, they will be kicked down not once or twice but many times. Not very uplifting as visions go! But the sting of the story is in its tale. God tell Isaiah that they will feel dead and lost but that the though they feel like a dead tree, the holy seed will be in the stump.
And in our reading from Romans there is much that I struggle with, but at the heart of the reading is this statement that, “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption.” In other words, the Christian life is one not to be lived in fear but in faith and hope.
I love the poem by Mary Oliver called ‘Mysteries, Yes’. In this poem she acknowledges that we (like Isaiah) live with mysteries too profound to be expressed or understood and yet the mystery is present in the ordinary and the profound.
Maybe Paul is talking to us in the Romans reading today and reminding us that we are not to be a people living in fear but a people whose life is based in our relationship to the divine. I think we might be able to identify with Isaiah’s message this week as we live with yet another lock-down and perhaps feel like there is little left of our life like the dead trees. But like the people of Israel we are reminded that even when we feel like an old stump, the holy seed is in the stump and it is the seed of love and of hope.