May 21, 2018
By Alison Buttrick Patton.
Rev. Alison Buttrick Patton is pastor of Saugatuck Congregational Church, UCC, in Westport.
Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. … 5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” 6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
Do you know that scene in The Wizard of Oz, when Dorothy’s three friends finally stand before the wizard, awaiting their rewards? The wizard (who may be wiser than he looks) realizes that they already have everything they’ve been looking for: brains, courage, a heart. What they need is something to remind them that they’ve got what it takes: a little pageantry, tangible signs – a diploma, a medal, a heart-shaped clock. Isn’t that just like us? To want clear signs? To need reassurance? To crave a public blessing?
We could go to a Justice of the Peace, but many of us choose to exchange marriage vows in a house of worship, where the pastor or rabbi confers a blessing and the photographer takes pictures we can hang on our bedroom wall. We could declare a person ordained as soon as they’ve jumped through all the hoops, but instead we throw a celebration. With prayer and laying on of hands, stole and Bible, we proclaim the candidate worthy and send them on their way. Lots of us can testify that the drama of that moment stays with us and gives us the fire we need to live out God’s call, even when the going gets tough.
I’m guessing Isaiah was more worried about his sin than God was. I’m guessing God already knew that Isaiah had what it takes to be a prophet. But before She popped the question, God gave Isaiah what he needed most: A little pageantry; a vision of angels and flame; a live coal to cast out doubt and ignite a spark. By the time God asked, Isaiah was already convinced: “Here I am; send me!”
O God, when we use our fear of being inadequate as an excuse for inaction, stir us up. Send us angels to make a scene, proclaim a blessing and light the fire under us, until we, too, can say without hesitation, “Here I am; send me!”
New Prayer Requests:
We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- for those grieving or suffering after a place crash in Cuba on Friday killed over 100 passengers and left three in critical condition.
- for the community near Santa Fe High School in Texas, and those grieving or suffering after a school shooting on Friday left 10 dead and several more wounded.
- for those effected by the severe weather on Tuesday that knocked down trees and power lines and left thousands in CT without power or road access.
- for the family and friends of Rev. Mason Ellison, retried UCC pastor, who died on January 28.
- for Rev. Meg Williams, Associate Pastor at First Congregational in Stratford, as she continues treatment for cancer.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- for Pentecost and the Holy Spirit in our midst.
- for the many young people who celebrated their Confirmations this past weekend and in the weeks to come.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
North Congregational Church, UCC
Church of the Redeemer UCC
Dixwell Avenue Congregational UCC
First Church of Christ in New Haven, UCC
Pilgrim Congregational UCC
This Week in History:
May 21, 1881 (137 years ago): The American Red Cross is founded to give aid to those affected by wars and natural disasters. Co-founder Clara Barton (with Adolphus Solomons) organized the first American chapter of the Red Cross after spending time working with the International Red Cross during the Franco-Prussian War in Europe.
Starting With Scripture:
May 21, 2018
Alison Buttrick Patton.