Isaiah 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!” (Isaiah 6:5)
The terror in Isaiah’s voice comes from finding himself in the very center of the Temple – a place known as the Holy of Holies. It was the place of the most intense encounter with the presence of God. And God’s holiness was so different than mortal’s sinfulness, that to be there without deep and intense preparation was literally viewed as life threatening. No one went into the Holy of Holies by accident!
Of course, Isaiah survived and even discovered his role in God’s work – his life calling. And the story reminds all of us that no matter how unprepared we feel we are, if God wants to use us we are capable of being useful.
In the coming of Jesus something interesting happens. While prior to Jesus it was rare and risky to go into the Holy of Holies, in Christ, the Holy of Holies has come into you. Paul refers to the body of the baptized and the “Temple of the Holy Spirit.” In Christ, holiness is not just something outside of us that we encounter. It is even more so something that dwells within us as we live our lives as the body of Christ with the incarnation and faith resulting in the mystery that God dwells in us!
All of this means that the special encounter that Isaiah had with God in his vision – a sort of one and done event – is a daily reality for us as followers of Jesus. We live in the presence of God. Christ dwells in the hearts of the baptized. Each day God’s grace forgives and cleanses us, calls to us to do Christ’s bidding, and sends us forth as willing workers in all that God is up to.
Just as Isaiah was called in the Temple that day, you are being called by Christ each day. God’s commitment to make our lives meaningful and useful is ever present and ongoing. All that is left is for Isaiah’s words in response to also be ours: “Here I am Lord. Send me.”