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International Sunday - February 10, 2019 - Sylvia Weston

There are many personal stories connected to the sermon today and I have woven in a few snippets: - like when I searched for the Readings in the calendar year and began to formulate themes such as - Prophets - The Word,  The Heart!   You better reconfirm with Matt that these are indeed the Readings  for Feb 10th.  Meanwhile, out of the blue, I  pulled out some paperwork from my book shelf:  one was  a paper I wrote on:  Isaiah’s Vision - and guess what:  another  that I wrote on Paul and his Damascus encounter with Jesus!  I am all set now, I thought.

 I received  Matt’s reply with the assigned Readings for Today.  Surprise, the Readings were different..  -  It was (Isaiah 6 - Isaiah’s Vision - and Paul’s Epistle  and Luke.))  Matt said, if you want to change it and stick with the ones in the Prayer Book, let me me know.  No, i’ll work with the New Readings; I’ll just pray that the Holy Spirit will give me a Word  to speak.  Am pondering -  Now  I need a New Theme. In a prayerful mode I uttered  Please help me Lord, as I need to begin afresh..   (Why did I come upon those 2 papers I wrote some  10 or 11 years ago? ) I don’t know.   I only know that The WORD  of GOD is Real.  They are all connected - all ONE:  The Word, The Prophets - and the Heart to Heart Connection that is made as we read/or Hear, Listen. and encounter  The Presence of  God -  as we  live and stand in The Holy. 

So this brings me to my  personal story - connected to the central Message:  I had visitors one evening and  as I  watched over my 5 year old nephew and 7 year old niece,  (just the 3 of us)  -and while the 2 played, I heard my nephew’s voice singing:  I listened intently and here are the words:      “Follow the Prophets, Follow the Prophets, Don’t go astray!”

I said : Adonai - What is that?  (Yes, his name is Adonai!)  Where did you learn this song? Can you teach me?  He continued with a few more renditions.  I couldn’t believe my ears; It was awesome!  The message I learned from this child is that I must pay attention -  to the Prophets.   I must pay attention to The WORD..   It’s all connected to Truth - to  a Name - to God , to Son of God— and that Name is JESUS  - and to the Holy Spirit!   

Today we hear The Word from Isaiah, Psalm, Paul and Luke..  What is the message you want to write on our hearts today, Lord?  It is amazing how the Holy Spirit takes wings and transport the Prophets into Moments of Holy - Divine  Presence, as it did with Isaiah at that Time when he entered the Temple..  Isaiah’s Theophany is Real! He SAW, He Heard:  “Holy, Holy. Holy is The LORD”,  he CONFESSED/Repented - “Woe is Me, for I am a man of unclean lips.”

He is FORGIVEN , TRANSFORMED and Renewed!   He Hears The VOICE of GOD!!  He RESPONDS!  Scripture tells us of many other similar Encounters and Conversations:

    You recall:  Moses,  Joshua, Jeremiah, Gideon - Mary - Mother of JESUS,  and those who heard the Voice of JESUS - Peter, Nathaniel, Philip, Mary Magdalene - and many others.. all mentioned in Paul’s epistle.  The prophetic prophets are rooted in The WORD!  The Word Became Flesh in Jesus.. the Given NAME.  He Became Like Us - so that in Our Becoming, we can be Like Him.  “Don’t you know that The Spirit of Jesus lives in You?” (1st Corinthians 3:16. ) “You are God’s Temple, the Spirit of God lives in you.”  “We have this treasure in the human body - Jesus Christ,”  And to the Galatians:  “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.”  And so we too, like Isaiah Worship, as we are drawn into God’s Holy Presence,  we Praise Him and sing:  “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord - God of Power and Might!”   We do this every Sunday during the Eucharist.   As Isaiah is drawn into that Heavenly Sphere, so too, we are drawn, so too, we respond and are renewed by the Holy Spirit of God!

Francois Bovon, one of my Professors says:  “Luke, in his Gospel relates how well  The Holy Spirit spoke through Isaiah & Paul about Jesus..  Luke considers that both agree on Truth, both are witnesses of JESUS.”  The Name above all Names;  Not only does His Name have Presence, it also has POWER/STRENGTH..  “Today, as in other Times, the Divine WORD remans true.  The Holy Spirit spoke well, because it’s WORD of long ago is still pertinent Today!”   Let us LISTEN. This JESUS, of whom Isaiah and Luke tell us in their Message today, saw the NEED when He taught the people who gathered to hear him.  He begins a dialogue with The Disciples:  How are We to Feed So Many?  Was this a Test?  I believe so.   (And here is where I confess I got mixed up with the two sets of Gospel reading.)  I listened very intently to Matt as he read the Gospel at the 8:00 A.M. service. I realized I was using another of the dialogues Jesus had with His disciples - the one where he tells Peter to “Cast your net into the deep.”  Well, being with Jesus and learning of-  and from Him, you would think that Peter’s Becoming has grown to the “Perception level” and he would surrender:  “Yes, I will…”  - for in all of the teachings, He does something NEW!   Jesus knew HOW he would feed the people..  He wanted to know how the disciples will respond to the current need.   Not only is Perception of utmost importance,  But the connection , and as we grow in  Relationship with Jesus  - that is  the BECOMING:  it is Important.  How deep/strong is their FAITH in God;  their FAITH in Jesus?  How is that growing in us?  Jesus says:  “I am In You and You are in ME.”  Jesus commissions us as he did  His Disciples - Feed The Hungry, Heal the Sick - Bless, Help and Love…  

Scripture says:  “Don’t you know that The Spirit of Jesus lives in You?”

Paul in his Epistles/Letters and visits to the various places, after his Conversion often remind them: “As one untimely born, HE appeared also to me.  I am the least of the Apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.  But by the grace of God, I am!”

“But when God who had set me apart before I was born, called me through His Grace; Pleased to reveal His Son to me, to Proclaim Jesus among the Gentiles…..”  “I was not given this Commission by human hands, but by God Himself.”  In his Damascus encounter,  when Paul asked  “Who are you Lord?” -  He Heard the voice:  “I AM JESUS.  GO-…”  Paul travelled to many Nations to Tell of The Love of  God…of Jesus..  He received the assurance:   “Do not worry about how you are to speak..  It is not You who speak, but The Spirit of Your Father, which speaks through You.”  The message:  “Jesus Christ died, was buried and was Raised up!”  I to have seen Him!

Indeed we are called to follow The Prophets…to learn and Do The Word and to respond. I wonder  what was pressing on Isaiah’s heart on that day?  What burden?  The passage dates his Vision “In the year that King Uzziah died:  “I saw The Lord. …”  God is Here. God is  THE KING!   GOD is on His Throne.   Who will GO and DO His Message of Compassion, of LOVE..of Praying,  WHO will Speak  for the oppressed?   Who will show Mercy? Who will walk the mile with My People?  Who will speak Healing in His NAME?  WHO will see that there is Food to feed the Needy..   Who will extend a Hand and offer Forgiveness?   God says:  Will You GO for Me?  Will you answer God’s call?   God’s  promise of His Grace is abundant and given  freely.  The Holy Spirit of God lives in You and will give you the Word to Speak.  God’s faithfulness is True and Everlasting!