Here I am – send me By The Rev. Jim Stickney

St. Alban’s Church
February 6, 2022
Pastor Jim Stickney
Isaiah 6: 1 – 8
Psalm 138
I Corinthians 15: 1 – 11
Luke 5: 1 – 11

Here I am — send me.

Last Thanksgiving we went to dinner at the home of Joni’s nephew Michael
and his family. Michael is a prison guard at a Corrections Facility
in Jamestown in the Sierra Foothills. The prison includes a fire-fighting
center where some inmates receive training to deploy to fight wildfires.
At some point I noticed Michael wore a wristband with a Scripture verse:
Isaiah 6: 8. He told me it was a verse used by first responders.
I quickly brought out my phone and opened up one of my Bible apps.
“I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send,
and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here I am; send me!”
Just envision a forest fire approaching. While everyone else flees the
flames, some first responders have this little verse at the back of their
minds: “Whom shall I send?” And I said, “Here I am — send me!”
Isaiah’s courageous response to God’s challenge comes after a powerful
vision — a spiritual experience of God’s presence filling up the temple in
Jerusalem.The angels — the seraphim — are singing one to another:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord! Holy, holy, holy. Holy, holy, holy. Holy, holy,
Let’s think about that for a moment. Those three words have been chanted,
recited, and carved into the stone and wood of thousands of altars.
That one spiritual experience of one person, the prophet Isaiah, has been
by millions of voices in music both classical and popular.
We pray those words every time we celebrate the Eucharist: Holy, holy,

That one vision, repeated over the centuries, gives the motivation to say:

Here I am — send me.

For the last few Sundays, we’ve been hearing about Jesus’ early ministry
according to Luke. We might recall that last Sunday Jesus returned to his
home town. The citizens of Nazareth welcomed him at first, but then turned
against him. The Gospels don’t mention that Jesus ever returned to the
place where he grew up.
Instead, he’s now on the road, an itinerant preacher — as he lives out
the challenge from Isaiah: “Whom shall I send?” Jesus says, “Here I am —
send me!” Today’s reading finds him preaching to a crowd, then getting into
a boat. You know how sound travels better over water than land. Jesus did
As a kind of “thank you” to Peter for the use of his boat, he makes a gift:
a huge haul of fish. Peter, of course, makes his usual gaffes in Jesus’
presence — followed by his accustomed apologies for being so lacking in
faith. It’s all well and good — Jesus would be getting used to Peter’s ups and
Then, in effect, Jesus issues the same challenge we heard in the prophet
Isaiah: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Peter, along with his
fishing buddies, leave the nets, and begin the lofty vocation of fishing for
people. In their decision to follow this wandering preacher, they say: “Here
we are; send us!”

Here I am — send me.

At the Offertory this morning, we will sing a bittersweet hymn:
“They cast their nets in Galilee.” I have a distinct memory of discovering
this hymn just a few months after I joined the Episcopal Church, in my
thirties. The poetry of this deceptively simple text actually showed me how
hymns could challenge and advance one’s understanding of Scripture.
The fourth verse sings about how ironic the peace of God can prove to be:
“The peace of God — it is no peace, but strife turned in the sod.
Yet let us pray for that one thing — the marvelous peace of God.”

We may be looking for an easy way of being a Christian, following Jesus’
saying that his voke is easy and his burden is light. That can certainly be
true. But we also find that following the path of Christ can lead to
challenges and difficult choices that shatter our ideas of some superficial
peace — such as when we define peace only as the absence of conflict.
But at the end, we can discover that the deeper peace that God gives us
provides us with a refuge, a resting place from which we can contemplate
how, for those who love God, all things work together for good.
And so we can still say, at every stage Christian life:
Here I am — send me.