Isaiah 6:1-8 (New International Version, ©2010)
1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.”
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
…. “Here am I. Send me!” These words have, at times haunted me. I know that I have spoken them, if not literally then certainly by my actions, a number of times. I tend to be the guy who jumps into the pool without testing the water. I have agreed enthusiastically to be a part of plans, ventures and endeavors. I still do.
This impulse to say, “I’ll do it- send me!” is, like so many other aspects of our personalities and characters, is both gift and liability. If we say these words, or live these words, too often, it can lead to burn-out. If we say these words in order to feel wanted, loved or needed, in other words to be “filled up” inside, then we are bound to be frustrated and perhaps resentful or angry. It is good to stop once in awhile and ask ourselves what is behind our speaking ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when we are called upon by others or by that voice of God that speaks within to respond to a call.
The gift, of course, is that, like Isaiah, when we speak our “yes” to God, wonderful, unexpected and beautiful things can happen. I reflect back as I write tonight on the call to priesthood. Initially it was a ‘gut feeling’ that I wanted someday to be like Fr. Pat, the younger priest at my boyhood parish. I admired his energy, enthusiasm and faith. The first time I said, “I think I want to be a priest”, I didn’t plan on saying it out loud- but when I did, I knew it made sense. It still does. I have, by the grace of God, been able to change the way I live that priestly call. For these past seven years life as an Episcopal priest has been a wonderful, life-giving way to say, “Here am I – send me!” For the past four and half years, I have also been given the opportunity to say, “Here am I- send me!” as a married man. I am sure that there are times when Gina can think of exactly where she’d like to send me! However, the call to married life is a very sacred way of living out God’s call.
It might do us all good to reflect on the times in life when, like Isaiah, we have stood at a turning point, or on the brink of an opportunity or call to serve or reach out. In a similar way we may reflect on those who have been there to reach out to us when we needed it most. We might also think about those we admire, respect and look up to you – because of the example they set and the way they live.
We may think of God in those many moments t saying, “Whom shall I send?” And we may reflect on the fact that, with words and more importantly with actions, we and so many others have responded, “Here am I – send me!”