There are times when we do not want anyone to get near us. We have a bad cold and we tell people to keep their distance so they will not catch it. We just finished a strenuous workout or have been working hard at some physical task and we warn people not to get too close, as if our perspiration were toxic.
In the Scriptures, there are stories of people who warned others to keep their distance. The prophet Isaiah warned some angels that he was a man of unclean lips (Isaiah 6:1-8). In the Gospel of Luke, after Jesus provides Peter with a huge catch of fish, he tells the Lord to stay away because he is a sinful man (Luke 5:5-11). Isaiah and Peter thought they were unpresentable, but not because of a bad cold or sweat. They thought they were unpresentable because of their sinfulness, almost as if they did not want God to catch what they saw as their ugly selves.
When Isaiah and Peter told God to stay away, an amazing thing happened. God showed them that even though they thought they were no good, they would be instruments of God’s presence to others. To Isaiah, God sent an angel to clean up his language and he became one of the great prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures. To Peter who thought all he could do was catch fish, Jesus told him that from that moment on, he would be catching people. Isaiah and Peter show us that even if we think we are not presentable, God sees our goodness and our capacity to bring his life and love to others, especially to those who may feel worthless.
This is our commitment weekend for the annual Diocese of Orange Pastoral Services Appeal (PSA). This appeal financially supports our diocesan ministries, and in particular this year, ministry to the youth of Christ Cathedral Parish. These ministries are all about helping us to know that even with our flaws, God sees our goodness. It is out of this goodness that we are called to bring his love to others.
The PSA theme, We Are One, reminds us it is our unity as a Church that brings the presence of Jesus most powerfully to the world. Jesus is waiting to do some of his best work with our sometimes-unpresentable selves. Thank you for your generosity in helping that work to happen.
Together in faith,
Very Rev. Christopher Smith, rector