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Day 14—Thursday, February 29

Isaiah 6:6-8

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!”

The calling of Isaiah, these three verses are very well known. A beautiful hymn by Daniel Schutte (1981, # 69 in your hymnal) borrows both the words and the general message. It brings tears to my eyes every time I sing it. It describes a vision that Samuel had, including seraphim, or angels. Angels are actually much scarier than most European artists depicted them, with several eyes, many wings, and a frightening appearance. The shepherds cowering in their fields makes sense when you see what angels really are like!

This message also involves touching a live coal to Samuel’s mouth. That seems impossible, unless you’ve done a shot of flaming Tequila or brandy. Not recommended for most of us, unless you spill it or pour too slowly, not painful. A hot coal would taste very bad, probably what I would imagine the taste of atoned sins leaving my body, with some of that smoky bitterness left behind as a reminder.

This pulls from Samuel’s call (“I am here, Lord,” I Samuel 3:1-10) and influenced the Magnificat (Luke 1: 46-55), which borrows both from Isaiah and also from the beautiful dedication by Hannah of her son to the Lord. (I Samuel 1:10-17, 20 and 2:1-2) “Here I am, send me” is one of the most famous Old Testament messages, perhaps because it describes both atonement and service, fulfilling God’s wish for us.

The passage describes faith as action. God wants Isaiah to do some very specific things. God made similar calls to Moses, Jonah, Jeremiah, Paul, etc. The list goes on. God doesn’t open Himself to a negotiation – Jonah learned that the hard way – he expects complete surrender. If you feel called by God, you need to open yourself to what God wants. Am I called by God specifically? Are you? The answer is that Jesus called all of us to God. We all are chosen; we all are called. It is not a negotiation. And Jesus defined what we need to do.

God, thank you for atoning our sins. Help us to know best how to listen for you and what to do, answering the call, “Here I am, Lord!” Amen.

-Hugh Wellons


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