Isaiah 6:1-8[9-13] (NRSV)
Chapter 6In 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. Verse 2Seraphs 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. Verse 3And one called to another and said: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory." Verse 4The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
Verse 5And 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!" Verse 6Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. Verse 7The 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." Verse 8Then 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!"[
Verse 9And he said, "Go and say to this people: 'Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.' Verse 10Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed." Verse 11Then I said, "How long, O Lord?" And he said: "Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate; Verse 12until the Lord sends everyone far away, and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land. Verse 13Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled." The holy seed is its stump.]
Imagine yourself in Isaiah’s powerful vision. Consider the dramatic, even terrifying, images before you: the majesty of the Holy One so grand you can only glimpse the hem of God’s robe; angels praising God with such power that the foundations tremble at the sound; smoke filling the house; God’s presence shrouded in mystery. Little wonder the prophet cries out in dismay, “Woe is me! I am lost!” In the presence of such holiness the prophet is completely undone, convicted of his unworthiness.
Like the prophet, we might feel insufficient to be God’s servant. But God doesn’t leave us lost in fear and woe. Divine presence is not to be take lightly, but the God of power always comes with mercy and grace. God sees you in your lost and fragile state and cleanses you from all that would separate you from God. You, too, are empowered to respond, “Here I am, send me.”
Mighty and Mysterious God, the universe declares your praise. Help us to trust your cleansing grace. Use us as instruments of your love for the sake of the world. Amen.