This Sunday’s lectionary scripture passages speak to our congregation’s situation today. We will hear the story of the calling of Isaiah to be a prophet (Isaiah 6:1-13 told to the children as an updated superhero adventure action episode) and the story of Jesus calling the first disciples (Luke 5:1-11).
Right now our congregation is exploring what it means when we say in our Future Directions Vision statement, “We intend to be a force, not merely a presence, effecting positive social change for peace, justice and the care of God’s creation.” The calling “to be a force, not merely a presence” is exactly what Isaiah and the disciples heard. They responded with trepidation and a feeling of unworthiness and no idea how they would fulfill that calling, but they also responded with faith and commitment, and the Spirit guided and empowered them to “effect positive social change” in a suffering world and in the face of great odds against them.
Both passages promise that the result of fulfilling our calling will be new and abundant life. Isaiah and the disciples may have been scared, they may have wanted to run the other way, but much stronger was their attraction to the beauty and goodness and power of what they saw. They saw the force of love and life and light that created the universe that we name God, and it moved them deeply. They went out and shone that same love, life and light to the world, and it moved others deeply and built a movement around them. There is one simple reason for this: that same force is in us all, in our hearts and minds and every cell of our bodies. The God in us responds with joy and hope and attraction to the God in others or in nature or art–nothing moves us more deeply than that pure love.
This Sunday we have the opportunity to fill with all of this uplifting positivity. We will read Psalm 138, we will sing “Take My Life and Let It Be” and “Lord, Speak to Me, That I May Speak” and the melodious, popular Spanish hymn translated as “Lord, You Have Come to the Lakeshore.” The choir will sing two John Bell pieces, “Bring Your Best to Their Worst” and his version of the South African chant, “Mayenziwe,” as well as an anthem arranged by the Amidons, D. L. Schutte’s “Here, I Am Lord.” Annemieke will play pieces by E. Grieg and J. S. Bach as well as the African-American spiritual, “It’s Me, O Lord.”