Today is the feast of the Prophet Isaiah who arguably was known as one of the great prophets who prepared the world to understand and recognize Christ when He finally appeared. The Church reads daily from Isaiah during Great Lent for this reason. We also get a glimpse of heavenly worship when we read the opening verses of chapter six (see below), which guides to understand that our Orthodox worship is a preparation for heavenly worship.
But not all words from prophets are well received. The rest of chapter six speaks of a people who have become hardened to the word of God. They hear and see but do not understand. Many hear and see today but neither understand nor believe. The Prophet Isaiah told us to expect great hardship in the world, all due to this refusal to believe and live according to God’s will.
The Prophet was martyred as many who speak the truth of God are. Today we find ourselves with many who claim the prophetic voice. Many are shouting from the rooftops a warning to the Church. We must learn to believe and live according to God’s will or face great hardship. We must learn to BE Orthodox in our way of life, or our parishes will continue to empty until there is nobody left to lock the door.
It’s time to Live A New Life In Christ, and BE the Orthodox Christians we claim to be. Being Orthodox isn’t about memorizing facts and doctrines. It is about nothing less than living IN COMMUNION with God. That requires being IN Church for Divine Liturgy every Sunday, prepared to receive Holy Communion. There are ancient Canons of the Church which speak to the “penalty” of missing too many liturgies or attending liturgies without receiving Holy Communion, or leaving early. These Canons were meant to inspire us to take our opportunity for living IN COMMUNION with God seriously. Maybe it’s time to revisit those Canons.
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!" And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: "Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The LORD of hosts." Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: "Behold, this has touched your lips; Your iniquity is taken away, And your sin purged." Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: "Whom shall I send, And who will go for Us?" Then I said, "Here am I! Send me." And He said, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.' "Make the heart of this people dull, And their ears heavy, And shut their eyes; Lest they see with their eyes, And hear with their ears, And understand with their heart, And return and be healed." Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered: "Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, The houses are without a man, The land is utterly desolate, The LORD has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. But yet a tenth will be in it, And will return and be for consuming, As a terebinth tree or as an oak, Whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump." – Isaiah 6.1-13