Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Hot Coal Spirit

Listen to the Sermon or the Entire Service

May 31:

Call:       Romans 8: 14-17
Reading:    W7S #163
Text:       Isaiah 6: 1-8
Closing:    John 3: 1-7

                Hot Coal Spirit

The year was        around 742 BC.
The place was       Jerusalem
The man was         Isaiah.

And Isaiah had a problem -  A big problem.

Somehow or the other he found himself
observing a meeting of the heavenly council,
presided over and controlled by God.

He knew he was not supposed to have been there
    Although in all honesty
    We don't know how it was that he ended up there
He certainly wasn't supposed to have seen the Lord
    That had been established for years
He knew fully well
    That coming face to face with God was punishable by death.

I told you that Isaiah had a big problem.

This problem was aggravated and worsened by the fact that Isaiah was a man who was honest with and about himself
    And thus could not justify his presence or his God seeing

For Isaiah was well aware that he was not perfect
    He had said and done things he should not have
Too, Isaiah knew his people were not perfect
    They too had said and done things they should not have
And so, having seen the Lord
    And having no defense
Isaiah was convinced he would be killed.

Now, I have faced problems that made me quite nervous.
But Isaiah's problem was bigger than any I have ever faced
And I am pretty sure that
Not many of you have ever faced a bigger one either.

That is the setting
and that is the problem presented in our text.
    [Isaiah 6: 1-5]

Isaiah didn't know what to do.

But God did!
God knew what to do.
And God took the initiative to do it.   [Isaiah 6: 6-7]

Instead of causing Isaiah to die,
God had a seraph (an angel) take a coal from the fire
    Touch Isaiah's lips with it
    And wipe way all of Isaiah's uncleanness.
        His own
        And that which he had   because of his community.

Then one of the truly neat and heart warming scenes in the OT
    [Isaiah 6:8 - 9a]

He heard the voice of the Lord saying,
"Whom shall I send and who will go for us?
Upon hearing this question, Isaiah could not help himself,
    "Here I am, send me!"

And God responded, "Go and say to this people ..."

I love this scene!

Here is Isaiah
    One moment so aware of his sins and faults
    That he expected to be executed.
And the next moment
    Purified through God's own initiative
    And through God's red hot coal spirit.
    He was telling God to use him as a servant.

Across the years, I have come to expect great things from God

That is why, as great as it is,  the part of the story that gets to me
Is not that God was good to and merciful to Isaiah

But rather, that Isaiah was so grateful
that when God was looking for someone to send on a mission
    he volunteered!

He volunteered!

Moses protested when God called him,
Jonah ran away, booked passage on a boat, and tried to flee,

But Isaiah was so grateful that he volunteered!!

Can't you just hear him?
    "You've got a job that needs doing, God.
    I'll do it.  I'll do it.  I'll do it.    Send me"

What an impressive example for us.

But that is not half of it.

A look at the story reveals
    That while Isaiah was waving his arms and shouting to God
He did not know a single detail about the mission!

Why did God need someone?
Where did God need to send him?
What did God want him to do there?
When was he supposed to go?

Isaiah didn't know any of that
    And yet he was willing to go.
    In fact, he vol un teered to go.

When God's spirit through that hot coal
touched Isaiah's lips
    Isaiah was given new life.

Instead of being executed   he was transformed.

Isaiah was an OT character.

This story was more than seven centuries
    Before the famous and much celebrated night in Bethlehem
It was even longer before
The much celebrated weekend of the cross and empty tomb
And it was even a speck longer
Before the eleven day Ascension to Pentecost period.

And yet  if there is any way to explain what Christ told Nicodemus
    The man who John tells us came to Christ by night.
    The sixth chapter of Isaiah is it.
We know this story well,    [John 3: 1-7]

If Nicodemus had been willing
to look back at his own Hebrew scriptures
he could have found the story of Isaiah and the hot coal
    and it could have unlocked the meaning of what Jesus was saying when he told him that no one could see the kingdom of God without,
        being born from above;
        being born anew;
        being born again.

For we see Isaiah being born from above
    Through the Spirit as manifested in a hot coal
that could be described as heated by tongues of fire.
And thereby we see Isaiah being transformed
From    a frightened    and fearful     observer of God
into a  trusting,   risk taking servant     of God.

Last week we celebrated Pentecost
    [I might add:
    In a service that was far more joyful, exciting, and energizing
    Than I could ever have planned or created.]

In that service we saw the Holy Spirit
    Give life to the dry bones
And Give birth to the church.

Today we see the Spirit
    Give new life and new birth to Isaiah
    And in doing so, provide to us with an example
And the answer to the baffled inquiry of Nicodemus

We see and we hear these lessons
We might even shout out a few "Hallelujahs" in celebration
But we will only know if we are transformed
    Into such trusting, obedient, risk taking servants of God
        If we are willing to write God a blank check
        By saying,  "Here am I; send me"

We will only do that
if we recognize that we haven't earned God's blessings any more that Isaiah had earned his
And     if, therefore,
we are as grateful for our blessings as Isaiah was for his.

The question is,    "Are we?"

Has     the red hot coal of Pentecost
Combined with Christ's crucifixion and  resurrection
to cause us
    to wave our arms and shout to God
        "Send me!"