Live Coals

Isaiah 6:1-8  (inclusive)
In the year of the death of Uzziah, ruler of Judah, I saw YHWH seated on a high and lofty judgment seat, in a robe whose hem filled the Temple. Seraphs were stationed above; each of them had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
They would cry out to one another, “Holy! Holy! Holy is YHWH Omnipotent! All the earth is filled with God’s glory!” The doorposts and thresholds quaked at the sound of their shouting, and the Temple kept filling with smoke.
Then I said, “Woe is me, I am doomed! I have unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips! And my eyes have seen the Ruler, YHWH Omnipotent!
Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal which it had taken with tongs from the altar. The seraph touched my mouth with the ember. “See,” it said, “now that this has touched your lips, your corruption is removed, and your sin is pardoned.”
Then I heard the voice of the Holy One saying, “Whom shall I send?” Who will go for us?” “Here I am,” I said, “send me!”

There are some days which separate our lives into ‘before’ and ‘after.’ Some moments, be they of beauty, or death, or an unexpected encounter with God, cleave our world in two.


This week’s scripture captures such a day for the prophet Isaiah. He encounters God, the hem of whose robe is enough to fill the temple where Isaiah stands.  And if only the hem, then how much more was there that could not be seen? And in the face of The Great Mystery, Isaiah is shaking in his boots. Before God even has a word for him, before God issues the invitation to be a prophet, or to do anything, Isaiah protests, explaining “I have unclean lips, and live among a people of unclean lips!”


Then one of the bird-like creatures, a seraph, flew to Isaiah holding a live coal from the altar. And with a touch as gentle as a kiss, the ember cauterizes Isaiah’s sense of unworthiness and consumes his fear — leaving more room within him for Yahweh’s words and Yahweh’s work. All of the sudden he finds himself calling out to the Holy One “Here I am-send me!”


The live coal is such a potent symbol in this passage: through it God consecrates Isaiah into his new call.  A wise writer quoted in the commentary for this scripture reminds us that to consecrate someone or something is not simply to transfer that person into the safe world of what is holy. Instead, there are lasting (and dangerous even?) consequences so much so that to consecrate means to “derail from normalcy.” (Feasting on the Word, pp 314-318)


This makes me think of the litany we spoke together in worship this past Sunday, included below.  To acknowledge and engage with God’s call on our lives does not protect us within the church walls, rather it leads us deeper into the heart of the world.


After Communion Litany                                        Inspired by Richard Rohr’s writings Jan 28 2010
The “Body of Christ” is something alive in this world. 
Those who live in communion and love, surely made possible by God, are the church, wherever they are. 
Church is not something you attend.                                          

Church is something you organically are. 
It is more a living organism than a formal organization. 
You don’t join it as much as you breathe it. 
Let us go and be leaven that will change the world.
We do not live in the world and go to church.                                         We live in the Church and go to the world. Amen.

Join us tonight as we read scripture, discuss the beauty and intensity of God’s call and share some good Irish food in honor of St. Bridget.

en paz, 
PS Community Meal is now held on an ongoing basis at Casa Semrad 108 South Rosemont Ave, 6:30 pm. All are welcome!  Call church number for more info 214. 233-4605. 
PPS After church on Sunday we will be marching in the second annual Oak Cliff Mardi Gras Parade. We line up at 1, march at 2, and be done in plenty of time for the Super Bowl. We need folks to bring BIG bags of throwable candy. (Gold coins ideal, but all candy welcome. We just want to make sure our kiddos have tons to throw). Come to church in warm, cozy-wear and ready to walk! We will be marching behind a trailer with our Trinity River Folk Band leading us in oldy-time bluegrass classics. ( This Little Light of Mine and more) They could use a generator for the amp. And Michael and Donavan are spear-heading float decorations.  Come at 10 AM Sunday to Kidd Springs to finalize decorations and lend a hand. All children, dogs, friends are welcome!


One of the joys of pastoring a church such as Church in the Cliff is how engaged this community is in social investment of various forms.  We give money, we organize, we volunteer,  we enter into relationship with the poor, locally and globally,  and we help and love each other.   

Over the past three weeks we collected almost $900 ($865 at current count) for Partners in Health, an organization that provides community-based health care in Haiti and other developing countries around the world.  They have over twenty years of experience working on the ground in Haiti’s poorest communities and are well equipped both to respond to the crisis and help rebuild the health infrastructure over the long term. Thank you to Ron for his passionate appeal and for all that donated. We will also accept contributions tonight. I’m hoping to send in an even grand, thanks be to God!

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