We tried that already

Fifth Sunday after Epiphany
7 February 2010
Epiphany 5C

Isaiah 6:1-12
Psalm 138
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Luke 5:1-11

This week seems a little bit back to normal. Any two-funeral week is hard. Especially when followed by Annual Meeting. Annual Meeting always has to deal with the institutional aspect of chruch: Vestry, budget and the like. This year, an amazing thing happened. We had four volunteers for four spots on Vestry. Even in the face of a challenging year in terms of budget. In my report, I said this year, we would not do Church as Usual — we were going to have to look at what we might do differently, and in particular how we might line up with God’s mission in the world.

The readings for this Sunday seem to fit hand-in-glove with that idea. Isaiah has his vision in the Temple, and is convinced that he will die. God’s majesty is always a dangerous thing in the christian Old Testament. We come blithely to church expecting to see friends, have a good time and go away refreshed. What would we do if we really encountered God? God tells Isaiah (who foolishly volunteers) to go speak to the people, so that they might hear and not understand. That has always puzzled me. Why would God want the people not to understand? Maybe it’s a statement of fact. Our eyes and ears are dull to the reality of God. How do we wake them up?

I can just hear the complaint of the Church in Peter’s remark to Jesus: “But we already tried that, and it didn’t work. You want us to do it again? If you say so.” And then when it succeeds beyond our wildest imagination, we have to step back and realize it wasn’t our efforts that made the thing work. We need to be praying that God will open our eyes and ears, and give us a simple instruction, like “let down your nets.”

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