Sunday, June 8, 2014

PROPHETIC FIRE Homily by Rev. Mary Sue Barnett ARCWP, Pentecost June 7, 2014

Readings: Isaiah 27: 2-5;
Proverbs 8:13-21; 
"Hearts on Fire" by Joyce Rupp;
Acts 2:1-5

Poet William Blake wrote:
"And we are put on earth a little space
 That we may learn to bear the beams of love"

To Bear the Beams of Love---
It sounds very intense.
The image that flashes before me is a solar flare shooting from the surface of the sun and sweeping across the face of the earth.
The earth could not bear the impact.
It would be destruction.
Love is that strong?
Love in our daily lives, for our entire lifetime, could be that intense?
For the poet says, we are on earth to learn to bear the beams of love.

If so, how are we doing with this?
What do we know of love at this point in our lives?
Do we live our daily lives learning to hold passionate love within ourselves.

Our Prologue readings this evening draw us into the reality of love that is intense and passion-filled.
The Holy One takes hold of the consciousness of the prophet Isaiah.
The Holy One shakes, wakes, disturbs Isaiah;
"If thorns and briers rise in My Vineyard, I will set it on fire!"
Isaiah's extreme speech reflects his experience of being seized by Divine presence.
Elizabeth Dreyer writes that passion is "an intense form of affectivity,
especially of love and desire between God and the human person.
Through the whole self of the prophet Isaiah, through mind, heart and body, God's love for the people flares and burns.
The reverberating message---No one is to do harm!
The people are the apple of God's Eye,
The people are God's "Vineyard of Delight,
watered every moment by the Holy One, watched day and night.
This vigilance of Divine tenderness will shift instantly to fierce aggression if anyone in that Vineyard does harm.

Can we be in love with this God?
Can we bear this kind of intensity?

In the Proverbs reading Holy Sophia raises Her voice.
The Hebrew verb at the beginning of the chapter is קרא
which is translated into English as either "call" or "cry."
Sophia does both.
Her call gains intensity in places and she erupts into full-blown cries.
It is with intense authority that She calls out Her hatred of evil and perverted speech.
It is with rays of passion that She cries out,
"I love those who Love Me and those Who seek me diligently find Me."
To love Her, to be lured by Her,
is to speak the truth and to hate evil.

Can we withstand Her love?
Can we hold it in our whole being?

In Joyce Rupp's poem, "Hearts on Fire,"
she writes, "I didn't know the fire of God could
be more than a gentle glow or a cozy consolation.
I didn't know it could come as a blaze."

With the Holy One Who resounds in the guts and in the consciousness of a human prophet~~~
With Holy Sophia Who vanquishes evil and insists that we be drawn into Her realm of Love~~~
With the Risen Christ Sophia Whose flaming presence unites diverse peoples into an astonishing oneness~~~
This business of mixing human and divine passion gives us no choice but to grow strong and stronger.
We can feel faint of spirit, we can weep, we can flee momentarily,
but we have no choice but to learn to bear the beams of love.
It is our very context. It is where we exist.
We ourselves are the Vineyard of Delight under Holy vigilance with a very high calling.

What do we do with the fruit of our Vineyard?
What do we do with the evil and perverted speech that threaten our Vineyard?

We need each other to learn to bear the beams of love and to act accordingly.
We need each other to have the strength to sustain in our own beings that divine passion shaking our guts and consciousness.
In our oneness we can do it.
In the light of human/divine fire, we can dialogue,
we can come into greater knowledge and truth,
and we can ascend to the heights of justice-seeking.

The Roman Catholic male hierarchy is a threat to our Vineyard of Delight.
Watch the Frontline Documentary "Secrets of the Vatican' and you will see a mere glimpse of the pathology.
A Ugandan Roman Catholic bishop, in his Easter message several weeks ago, told parents to turn over their gay children to authorities, that their reward will be in heaven.
In Uganda, it is criminal to be gay. In Uganda, a Roman Catholic bishop is participating in a message of genocide.

Many Catholic laypeople and many Roman Catholic women priests and deacons have signed a petition addressed to Pope Francis to denounce what the Ugandan bishop has done.
Roman Catholic woman bishop Bridget Mary Meehan posted this on her blog to get the word out far and wide.
Joseph Kurtz, the local archbishop and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has not made a public denouncement. I cannot fathom what church status, money or politics would be more important than condemning words of genocide that come from the mouth of another Catholic leader.
What is wrong with that man?
He is no Bridget Mary, for sure.
To this day, on Pentecost weekend, not a public word or action of denouncement has come from the pope.

This is perverted and this evil.
These thorns and briers are wreaking terror.
This is on the wrong side of the Holy One.

Let us not say with naïveté that we did not know the fire of God could come as a blaze.
Let us rather take a stand in our oneness.
Let us make known far and wide that human/divine passion is a power to be reckoned with.
The vulnerable ones of our Vineyard depend on our beams of love.
Together, let us be taken into Holy Sophia's realm of love where we echo from the depths of our communal soul the Divine words of the prophet Isaiah,
"If thorns and briers rise in my Vineyard of Delight, I will set it on fire!"

The ordained women of this Christ Sophia women priest community of Louisville will be robing up and walking in an ecumenical clergy procession for an Interfaith Pride Service called "Making the Welcome Real" here in the sanctuary of First Unitarian Church on Thursday, June 19.
The Vineyard of Delight bears fruit.

Come be a part and let us blaze on with a prophetic fire!