I remember the first time I heard the story of Isaiah’s call as a young child:
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!” (Isaiah 6:1–6)
Partly I was intrigued by the mystical vision. But mostly I was moved by God’s question, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” and by Isaiah’s response “Here am I; send me!”
It seemed so bold and so humble and so audacious all at the same time. I chose that text for my ordination first as a pastor, and then later as a bishop. (And my mother read it both times!) In doing so I was trying to articulate how important it is to say yes to God’s call.
God calls each one of us in a variety of ways. For some of us, it is to particular vocations in the church or in the world. Take for example, Robert Granke’s service to Canadian Lutheran World Relief (see page 6). Maybe you are hearing the call to service within a local congregation. Or are you being called to specific ministry in your congregation or community. Perhaps you have said yes to the call to serve the wider church as a member of synod or National Church Council. The call to serve can come through any one of these ways, and more.
We ALL are called by God in our baptisms for a life of discipleship. The joy and challenge of discipleship is always listening for how God is calling us to serve in new ways. We may not always hear the voice of the Lord, like Isaiah did. We may instead get a call requesting us to volunteer, or feel a particular passion in our hearts for a new kind of service. We need to prayerfully discern if indeed these are ways God is calling us to serve.
I give thanks for the many ways that you are answering God’s call. I give thanks for the many volunteers who make our church run and who indeed live out our call to be In Mission for Others. May we all like Isaiah be both bold and humble in answering, “Here I am; send me!”