As a Professor in a Seminary for the past 14 years, the subject of ‘call’ was basic to my work. Students preparing for ministry in Christian churches are expected to be able to talk about their ‘call to ministry’, to be able to draw upon Biblical narratives to back up their own stories, and to feel comfortable with the notion that God has called them to a particular form of life and occupation. A large part of my job of ‘pastoral formation’ was to teach ‘call’, and to evoke from students a capacity to reflect upon and articulate their own unique sense of God’s call to them.
I have to remind myself that not everybody thinks the subject of God calling people is either ‘ordinary’ or ‘normal.’ I also have to remind myself that for many centuries the Christian church has tended to reserve that language of ‘call’ for its professionals – clergy, priest, pastors, nuns, monks, missionaries, so much so that ‘ordinary’ folk were not expected to experience the call of God in any describable or tangible way.
Nothing could be further from the Biblical record!! Scripture is full of stories of young boys, teenage girls, middle aged women, old men, murderers, thieves, agricultural workers, fishermen, housewives, slaves, servants, sick people, soldiers, groups of people, even whole nations, and….even donkeys (!) hearing God call to them personally by name, to do something of value on God’s behalf in the world of creation. Perhaps that list doesn’t sound so ‘normal’, but the cumulative effect is that God seems to be rather indiscrimate, and flambouyant in the way God calls upon us to partner with God in fleshing out the Dream of God.*
This season of Epiphany (Year B) delves into some of these ‘call stories’, so what better time for me to re-learn what this notion means to the men, women, children of Cedar Park who are not necessarily planning to ‘work for God full-time’ but who nevertheless want to make sense of those nudges, longings, questions, whispers, dreams, which prod them to want to make a difference in the world for good, or who want to follow the Christian way. While my seminary teaching experience brings a lot to the table in this conversation, I am looking forward to learning from you what this notion of call means to you as you live out your daily lives.
In sermons on Sunday, and in conversations during the week (and with groups like the Women’s Group who are exploring the same theme), we have an opportunity to ask ourselves as a community and as individuals “What is God calling me/us to be or do?” Come along for the journey, add your comments here, go to the Church website to read ther sermons I’m preaching on this topic, send me an email, pick up the phone, share your own call stories, help us learn more about the ways God invites us in to living the Dream.
The art work is “Calling Disciples” by He Qi, posted here courtesy of Vanderbilt Divinity Library.