Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Looking for Assurance

Lectionary Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8 (NRSV)

Last week, we had a vision of the prophet Ezekiel as he experienced the valley of the dry bones.  This week, we have a vision of the prophet Isaiah as he is in the presence of God in heaven.  He doesn’t envision the angels as young men dressed in white.  Rather, they seem much more other-worldly.

In the midst of this holiness, Isaiah has a strong impression of his own unworthiness.  He is afraid that he will die.

This may come from the tradition of Exodus 33:20 where God states directly, “you cannot see my face; for no one shall see me and live.”

There was a strong sense of danger in coming too close to the divine.

Is Isaiah actually fearful for his life or is he possibly looking for some assurance through his statement?

He may have been thinking, "I'm not dead yet, maybe there's still hope for me!"

As we think about interactive worship experiences, touching a live coal to people's lips is not one that we have repeated!

Once at a church camp worship, however, we did use Icy Hot applied to people's hands to give them a sense of the burning sensation that Isaiah must have felt.  It was a reminder of the cost of the cleansing we receive while at the same time an assurance that we do not have to have the sin burned out of us in such a dramatic fashion to answer God's call upon our lives.

As we gear up for camp, I want to say "thank you" to all the people who have donated for our youth to attend this summer.  Church camp is such an important part of our spiritual formation and I love each of our retreat settings that we have in Oklahoma as a part of The United Methodist Church.

Here's our church getting ready
to attend Camp Spark in 2019. 
Everyone looks a lot younger!
Last week at a meeting, we heard that Camp Spark (the church camp that our youth attend at Canyon Camp) led our camping program with 200 registrations.  Edmond FUMC is leading the way with 40 of those!  To keep in line with safety, we will be having more outdoor activities this year so you may need to pack more t-shirts if you are planning on attending!  I will be going and this will be my last time to spend as Edmond First's senior pastor - I find it fitting to do so since this was such an important part of who I've been as a pastor.

Interestingly enough, I will spend my first week as a district superintendent (the very next week) at Camp Lead which is designed for leadership for youth in middle and high school.  I truly believe that this is the perfect place for us to nurture young leadership for the church of today.  My hope is that I can continue to support camps financially as well as through my presence.  If we can generate this kind of interest in camping through the variety of churches that I'll help oversee, I will consider it a job well-done.

As we consider Isaiah's call by God in today's text, my own call was realized through our church camps.  The template of retreat and re-entry into the world is modeled by Jesus and continues to work for people today.  

Because our church camps operate on income received from non-church revenue throughout the year who utilize the space as a retreat center, we have unfortunately operated at a loss through the pandemic.  If you would like to make a contribution to sending our kids to camp, you may do so here.  If you would like to contribute directly to our camping program, you may do so here.

On Sunday, we'll worship together as we consider our own need for assurance these days.  God's presence is not feared in this day as it was in Isaiah's.  But God's call continues to come to our lives in lots of ways. 

I hope you'll join us for worship on Sunday at 8:30, 9:45 (outdoors - weather providing) or 11 am.  We'll be live-streaming on YouTube at 8:30 and Facebook at 11 am for those out of our area or who aren't ready to join us in person.

In Christ,


All scripture quoted is from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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