Meditation: Send Me
Then 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!" - Isaiah 6:8
The snow was already falling and the bus was parked in front of the church when we arrived. It would be a seven hour drive to Washington DC where we would worship with other peaceful Christians and walk the four miles to the White House to make a very public witness for the teachings of Jesus.
As the other peace travelers boarded the bus, the driver was receiving reports from truckers and bus drivers on the CB. His reports were increasingly getting worse. We were told that the roads were icing up faster than the road crews could deal with them at the reports from Breezwood Pa were bad.
Our trip was organized by Joanne Lehman of Kidron Ohio. More than once during the trip I heard her say “here am I send me” as she explained to people how she came to organize the bus trip. When all of those who intended to come had found a seat, the driver asked her to make a decision abut proceeding in light of the weather. Those who boarded the bus did not show any signs of being deterred by the weather and there was little question about what to do. We went to Washington as planned.
We made friends, as people usually do who share a common adventure. Some on the bus were in their late seventies. They had stories of traveling to Washington during the Vietnam war for the same reasons and in similar circumstances. I came to think about them as members of VFP ( veterans of foreign peace) Our driver was an older man whom I correctly guessed served in the military. I asked how he felt about taking a bus load of “Christian peaceniks” to Washington.
His only response was “ it’s a good thing you folks are doing but it won’t do a lick of good… the government will do exactly what it wants anyway.” I was sure most agreed with his pragmatic assessment but I tried to explain why we were going.
“We do not do the right thing because we think it will make a difference but simply because it is what we are called to do.” We collectively say “here am I send me” That is the idea I tried to convey to him. I had thoughts about how each of us who chose to go on the trip were willing to take personal risk but our driver was just following orders. What responsibility do we have for our bus driver while we serve the Lord? Yes when we answer the call “here am I send me” things are not always clear cut.
We got to the National Cathedral just as the service was starting. There was little time to take in the massive gothic structure. The service was powerful as we heard from a US soldier, a young Iraqi, and a women in Baghdad. Many were moved by the words of an Abu Ghraib Detainee juxtaposed with the gospel of Matthew which recounts the torture of Christ. Pain is pain and torture is torture. There is no denying that.
We filed out of the cathedral and lit our candles. We began the four mile walk to the White House in blowing snow and fierce winds. The weather drew us closer together as we each know in our hearts that in some way we had answered the call with “Here am I send me.”
It required constant vigilance not to get separated from our group during the trek to the White House so it was a relief when we arrived. The windows were dark. Clearly no one was home.
We sang and prayed.
Some had planned to stop and pray in front of the White House knowing it was illegal. We said our good byes. We prayerfully sang and prayed Dona Nobis Pacem( Give us Peace) as they filed past us. They knew they faced a long night. In this solemn moment I could not help think about the martyrs of the early church and the reformation who went with the same spirit to their death. Would we be willing to make that sacrifice?
The Christian Peace Witness for Iraq was just one of the innumerable Christian Peace Witnesses through out history. Even thought it required air travel from my home in New Mexico to my sisters house in Ohio and then a 7 hour bus ride on treacherous roads I will do it all again and again and again not because it will certainly change the hearts of government officials but because it is part of “the call. “We have just begun to sing God’s praise here in our time on the earth and it all starts with the simple response “here am I send me.”
Prayer: With great love and service we are honored to answer the call with “here am I send me.”
Action: re-commit your life to answer the call with “Here am I send me.” Listen to the still small voice and be faithful.