Tough Rooms   1 comment

Above:  Isaiah’s Vision

Image Source = Cadetgray

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Isaiahwindow.jpg)

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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Isaiah 6:1-13 (TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures):

In the year that King Uzziah died, I beheld my Lord seated on a high and lofty throne; and the skirts of His robe filled the Temple.  Seraphs stood in attendance on Him.  Each of them had six wings:  with two he covered his face, with two he covered his legs, and with two he would fly.

And one would call to the other,

Holy, holy, holy!

The LORD of Hosts!

His presence fills all the earth!

The doorposts would shake at the sound of the one who called, and the House kept filling with smoke.  I cried,

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 own eyes have beheld

The King LORD of Hosts.

Then one of the seraphs flew over to me with a live coal, which he had taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.  He touched it to my lips and declared,

Now that this has touched your lips,

Your guilt shall depart

And your sin be purged away.

Then I heard the voice of my Lord saying,

Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?

And I said,

Here am I; send me.

And He said,

Go, say to that people:

“Hear, indeed, but do not understand;

See, indeed, but do not grasp.”

Dull that people’s mind,

Stop its ears,

And seal its eyes–

Lest, seeing with its eyes

And hearing with its ears,

It also grasp with its mind,

And repent and save itself.

I asked,

How long, my Lord?

And He replied:

Till towns lie waste without inhabitants

And houses without people,

And the ground lies waste and desolate–

For the LORD will banish the population–

And deserted sites are many

In the midst of the land.

But while a tenth part yet remains in it, it shall repent.  It shall be ravaged like the terebinth and the oak, of which stumps are left even when they are felled; its stump shall be a holy seed.

Psalm 93 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

The LORD is King;

he has put on splendid apparel;

the LORD has put on his apparel

and girded himself with strength.

He has made the whole world so sure

that it cannot be moved;

Ever since the world began, your throne has been estabished;

you are from everlasting.

4 The waters have lifted up, O LORD,

the waters have lifted up their voice;

the waters have lifted up their pounding waves.

Mightier than the sound of many waters,

mightier than the breakers of the sea,

mightier is the LORD who dwells on high.

Your testimonies are very sure,

and holiness adorns your house, O LORD,

for ever and for evermore.

Matthew 10:24-33 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued instructing his disciples,]

A pupil is not better than his teacher, nor a slave better than his master.  A pupil should be satisfied to come to be like his teacher, or a slave, to come to be like his master.  If men have called the head of the house Beelzebub, how much worse names will they give to the members of his household!  So do not be afraid of them.  For there is nothing covered up that is not going to be uncovered, nor secret that is going to be known.  What I tell you in the dark you must say in the light, and what you hear whispered in your ear, you must proclaim from the housetops.  Have no fear of those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.  You had better be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in the pit.  Do not sparrows sell two for a cent?  And yet not one of them can fall to the ground against your Father’s will!  But the very hairs of your heads are all counted.  You must not be afraid; you are worth more than a great many sparrows!  Therefore everyone who will acknowledge me before men I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven, but anyone who disowns me before men, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

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The Collect:

O God, you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbor: Grant us the grace of your Holy Spirit, that we may be devoted to you with our whole heart, and united to one another with pure affection; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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A Related Post:

Week of Proper 9:  Saturday, Year 1:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/24/week-of-proper-9-saturday-year-1/

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Stand-up comedians speak of “tough rooms,” or audiences which do not laugh at their jokes.  That seems like an apt analogy for what Isaiah faced, only he was not telling jokes.  He experienced a majestic vision of God with the divine retinue, during which he perceived a commission.  Whether his mission was supposed to result in the hardening of hearts or that was merely the unintended consequence is a knot which Jewish and Christian scholars have been trying to untangle for a very long time.  This post will not settle that argument, nor do I attempt to do so with it.  What is beyond dispute, however, is that the result was far from mass bewailing of sins, repentance, and conversion from idolatry.

Meanwhile, in Matthew 10, Jesus told his Apostles that they would face great opposition and perhaps even martyrdom.  Most of them, according to ecclesiastical tradition, did die for the faith.  Yet, as we read, in 10:28a,

Never be afraid of those who can kill the body but are powerless to kill the soul!  (J. B. Phillips, 1972)

It can be difficult to stand seemingly alone or with little company for the sake of righteousness.  Often those who stand for what is moral are unpopular.  Abolitionists, for example, never gained enough support to end the slavery before the U.S. Civil War.  This was not due to their lack of effort.  Today, nearly universally, even in the South, where slavery was concentrated, modern Americans agree that the Abolitionists were correct.  Yet, in their day, many white Southern Evangelicals regarded the Abolitionists as heretics for opposing slavery, an institution which, according to white Southern Evangelical orthodoxy of much of the 1800s, the Bible supported and even mandated.

Attitudes can change slowly, especially when they are ingrained deeply in society and culture.  Those who tell us that we have gotten something terribly wrong might seem less than reliable, even when they are correct.  Yet, as Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, God calls us to be faithful, not successful.  The victory, when it comes, will be God’s.  May our labors contribute to, not resist that triumph.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 7, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE SAINTS AND MARTYRS OF THE PACIFIC

THE FEAST OF ELIE NAUD, HUGUENOT WITNESS TO THE FAITH

THE FEAST OF JANE LAURIE BORTHWICK, TRANSLATOR OF HYMNS

THE FEAT OF JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER, POET

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/09/07/week-of-proper-9-saturday-year-2/

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Posted February 6, 2012 by neatnik2009 in Isaiah 6, Matthew 10, Psalm 93

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One response to “Tough Rooms

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  1. Pingback: Week of Proper 9: Saturday, Year 2 « ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS BY KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

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