v. 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!"
The story of Isaiah's call to ministry is at least somewhat familiar, and it's a great scene. A heavenly vision replete with four-winged creatures, incense everywhere, and a heavenly Temple whose pivots quake at the sound of praise to the Most High: "Holy, holy, holy."
It is no wonder that Isaiah sees this vision and says, "Wo! I probably shouldn't even be seeing this! This is too much for me; I am not worthy!" But then, an angel takes a live coal from the Altar and touches it to Isaiah's lips (ouch!), and says, simply, "You're worthy now! It's a done deal."
Then comes the voice wondering whom to send, and Isaiah is strong (and foolish?) enough to say, "Send me!" I have a picture of him as a second grader raising his hand in school. "Ooh, ooh, call on me! I know the answer!"
As the story goes on, moments later Isaiah regrets his eagerness. What he is being sent to do is to tell the people off. Sarcasticaly the voice says, "Tell them to 'keep listening, but do not comprehend.'" Isaiah has hard words of judgment to speak and he asks, "How long am I going to have to do this?" The answer: "Until the Lord has sent everyone far away."
If we want to personalize this story (and it is perfectly reasonable to be hestitant to do so) we can talk about everyone's calls to answer, "Here am I; send me!" We do want to do something, in the words of someone from a meeting I was at last evening, "to keep hope alive."
We are all called to ministry; all are ministers. This has become one of our creeds. But we must always remember two things. The "why" of our call is always God, and that "why" must always be in place before we can answer "what" and "how." And then we must be prepared as part of our call to have to do or say something hard. We do get times to say or do, "Comfort, comfort" (as we heard Isaiah get to say to his people this past Sunday). But there are also times to say or do, "No, what is should not be."
May we all have the vision, the strength to say, "yes," and the courage to say or do what we are called to say or do. But let us never forget "why."