Let Us Worship Together!
Our Saviour is incredibly pleased to have you join us for live in-person worship inside the Nave and Sanctuary on Saturday, February 5 at 5:30 pm (casual with Voices of Praise), and Sunday, February 6 at 8:00 am (simple service) and 10:30 am (traditional with choir and/or organ music). The Saturday evening and Sunday 10:30 am services will will also be online via Facebook Livestream!
Join your prayers with the community! During the live stream of the service, you are invited to type into the Facebook chat any prayer requests for those you want included in the prayers of intercession. (As always, you may also send your prayer requests by Wednesday the week ahead to firstname.lastname@example.org.) Please do this at the beginning of the service so that we can write them up and hand them to the pastors before the prayers start.
4:00 pm — High School Youth Group — The Youth will meet AFTER service at 6:30 pm this week for a special Winter Olympics Fun night!
Sunday 8:00 am — First Light Service
Sunday 8:45 am — Fellowship
Sunday 9:00 am — Sunday School for All Ages (including adults)
Readings and Psalms:
Isaiah 6:1-8 [9-13]
1 Corinthians 15:1-11
5th Sunday after Epiphany, Year C
Sermon on Lectionary 5 C 2022
Is 6:1-8; I Cor 15:1-11; Lk 5:1-11
OSLC 6 Feb 22
Pr. Michael Church
“How desperate must you be,” the false god asked, “that you call upon such lost creatures to defend you?”
That is a line from one of the blockbuster comic-book movies, about a team called the Avengers. The false god, Loki, has an army poised to conquer the earth, and a spy played by the great Samuel L. Jackson has put together a team to protect the planet. They are superheroes, but not perfect, unblemished Superman-types. Captain America is a man who has lost everything – his friends, his family, the whole world he remembers. And he’s the lucky one. Iron Man is so arrogant that he drives away anyone who cares for him, so prideful that he becomes his own worst enemy. The Black Widow is a repentant assassin, trying to atone for the innocent lives she has taken. And the Hulk is a brilliant scientist transformed into his own worst nightmare, a mindless monster given over to violence and destruction.
They are, each in his or her own way, a mess. They are hurt, frightened, broken. If these are Earth’s mightiest heroes, Loki sneers, then Earth has no hope. Because they are, and he is right about this, they are –every one of them — lost creatures.
Like me. And like some of you. A lot of us feel lost lately. These are such hard times, aren’t they? It’s COVID, sure, but so much more. It’s our divisive politics, it’s Tik-Tok teaching teen girls to be ashamed of their bodies, it’s our whole culture of bitterness and rivalry. It’s the shooter at Bridgewater College last week. It’s a thousand little offenses against civility or even reason, dragging us down each day.
Psychologists describe a condition that strikes people sometimes, often at work. You are going along, doing what you love. But your lofty ideals don’t match the absurd reality of everyday experience. Changing circumstances make it impossible to plan for the future. And then, day by day, it gets harder. You don’t feel like you are accomplishing anything. You get cynical, bitter, about the possibility of making a difference. Depression sets in – you don’t want to get out of bed, much less work; you may even have physical symptoms, in the heart or in the gut.
They call this burnout. It is common in professions with high ideals – doctors, teachers, even the clergy. But I read an article last week suggesting that we are all suffering from it, all of us who have lived through the last couple of years. Maybe not as individuals, but as communities, even as churches. So much struggle for so long threatens to break us.
It’s not just us, living today, with all our problems. In our first lesson, God – the true God – calls the prophet Isaiah into his presence, reveals himself in majesty, on a throne, hidden behind clouds of incense and attended by flying fiery serpents, and Isaiah is not grateful for the vision. He is terrified, and blurts out, “Woe is me! I am lost.”
He feels unclean, unworthy to stand in God’s presence. He wants to turn and run, to hide, perhaps even to die.
I’ve been thinking this week about a woman named Cheslie Kryst. She was impossibly gifted – a lawyer specializing in complex civil litigation, a beauty queen (Miss USA) and a TV correspondent. And a few days ago, she posted a message on Instagram, wishing her friends rest and peace. Then she threw herself from the 29th floor a Manhattan skyscraper.
Young, brilliant, beautiful – if she did not feel like she could keep going, how can any of us?
But beloved, there is hope. If you remember nothing else I preach today, remember that.
Look at Simon the fisherman, cleaning his nets at the end of the day. Jesus shows up, and bids him set out into the deep water once more, to cast the nets one more time. Simon obliges him – who knows why? – and the results are spectacular. The nets are so full they burst; partners come to help, and soon all their boats are so heavy-laden they threaten to sink.
And when Simon sees this miraculous catch, what does he say? Does he say Wow? Or Thank you to Jesus? No; he says “Get away from me; for I am a sinful man.” Like Isaiah, Simon senses that he is not fit to stand in such a presence. He is not worthy.
But Jesus calls him anyway, transforms him from Simon the fisherman to Peter the Apostle. And so too, even if we feel unworthy – even if we in demonstrable fact are unworthy – God reaches out to us, and calls us to be with him in his community of faith and hope.
Or look at St. Paul, who wrote our second lesson. An apostle of the Lord, sure; the greatest missionary of all time, absolutely; the man who singlehandedly brought the Gospel to Europe, pretty much. But that came afterward.
Paul was a bad man. He had been a persecutor of the Church. When the crowd murdered Stephen the Deacon, Paul cheered them on. He uses strong language – our translation hides it, but Paul calls himself a miscarriage, an abortion. (You think you feel bad about yourself? He felt worse.) He was a lost creature, hurt and broken, even dead, until Jesus came to him. Broken, until God restored him.
And so was I. And so were you. So were we all, until God touched our lips with fire, until God carried us out into the deep water and brought us back transformed, until God struck us blind and gave us a new vision of the heavens and the earth.
The Japanese have an art form, one that is very beautiful and very practical, called kintsugi. The idea is that when something breaks – a piece of porcelain, say a teacup – they do not sweep it up and throw the shards away, as I might do. Instead, an artist will painstakingly fit the pieces together, and hold them in place with a thin strip of gold. The cup is not new again; you can see, forever, where it was broken. It is not new, but it is better than new – stronger, more beautiful, even more precious.
I think that this is what God does with us. When we are hurt, when we are broken, God does not simply make us as we were. No; God makes us new, and different. We are stronger now, in the places where God has healed us, more beautiful, where God has touched us.
This is God’s way with us, beloved. Not to destroy and cast out, but to mend and make whole. Those parts of us that ache, those cracks in our soul, they shine like seams of gold when God touches them with grace. They shine – we shine – because God has called us worthy, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Liturgical material © 2017 Augsburg Fortress, used by permission of Augsburg Fortress/Sundays and Seasons #SAS009239. Copyright Acknowledgments for print & broadcast: CCLI - Copyright License #2800659 and Streaming License #20585472 (including SongSelect Advanced); and One License #710443-A.