During the period of mourning following the death of King Uzziah, Isaiah goes to the temple and has a vision of being ushered into the throne room of heaven where God sits in elevated glory. The prophet’s response is a feeling of inadequacy and guilt, but he receives the miraculous message that “your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Verse 8 states that the prophet was not invited into the presence of God simply to enjoy God’s company. God is seeking for someone to proclaim the divine message. Isaiah, who was so recently rescued, now replies, “Send me.”
In keeping with the experience of Isaiah, Henri Nouwen provides a description of the experience of calling in the life of all believers: taken, broken, blessed, and given. In our personal spiritual encounter we are taken into the very presence of God. In God’s holy presence, we understand our own brokenness. Then we are blessed by God and enabled to live with the help of God’s presence and strength. Finally, each one of us is given a commission to serve. You will notice that those are the same words spoken during the observance of the Lord’s Supper as the bread is taken, broken, blessed, and given.
The precise message given for Isaiah to proclaim is a harsh word of judgment spoken to God’s people who will “not listen and not comprehend.” It is as if God has given up on the beloved children who had been divinely chosen. Isaiah pleads for his people asking how long must they wait for relief and redemption? God’s answer is difficult to translate, but it is something about new life from a dead stump, about life coming from death, about an impossible possibility. The answer, of course, is the miracle of Christmas and Easter.