In our world of movie magic, a scene like this doesn’t seem too hard to imagine. But for Isaiah, who not only saw the vision, but also lived it, this would be terrifying. Not only is the Lord gigantic and frightful, but also Isaiah lived in a culture with a history – no one who looked upon the Lord lived to tell about it. Yet, here is Isaiah, face to face (hem?) with the Lord and the Lord’s seraphs. Clearly, Isaiah feared for his life. Yet the seraphs moved with purpose – to blot out Isaiah’s sin with the cleansing touch of a live coal. This cleansing left Isaiah with an opportunity – to respond to the Lord’s call with “Here am I; send me!”
What an interesting thought, that the cleansing of our sins can leave us available (even worthy?) for being called and sent. We have been given the gift of cleansing many times and in many ways. Our baptism seals our worthiness. Confession and absolution, as well as Holy Communion offer a renewal of God’s promise of forgiveness. Might this mean we are all left with the opportunity to be called and sent? Isaiah had done nothing to earn the right, nor was he trained in prophecy. God called. Isaiah responded. Isaiah went. What might happen if, when we are called and sent, we just go?
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.” The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 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!”