“For in truth we are not called once only, but many times; all through our life Christ is calling us. He called us first in Baptism; but afterwards also; whether we obey His voice or not, He graciously calls us still. If we fall from our Baptism, He calls us to repent; if we are striving to fulfill our calling, he calls us from grace to grace, and from holiness to holiness, where life is given to us.”
John Henry Newman, “Divine Callings” in Callings
Our callings/vocations are among the few components that are the firm foundation of Lutheran theology and teaching. This foundation, along with “Saved by Grace Alone” and the authority of Scripture (alone), is vocation. Thus, it is among few components that are too important to be considered Adiaphora, a fancy term for “things indifferent”.
However, in our time and place, we tend to imagine our calling/vocation as our professional lives or how we provide for our families and ourselves. BUT, vocation goes much deeper.
Our vocations begin from before we are born and continues until the moment of our death. We ALL have vocations as sons/daughters, nieces/nephews, cousins, and friends.
We, the baptized, have been baptized into Christian vocation. This vocation is the foundation of our teaching. Our baptismal vocations should serve as the foundation for ALL our vocations. In our baptisms, we came to the waters and we made commitments to proclaim the Word in our words and deeds, to seek justice, to act with compassion and mercy, to love and to serve ALL people, ALL creatures, ALL creation. THAT is the foundation our callings/vocations.
As I pondered in preparation for this evening, I kept reflecting on my time in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE). During the summer between the first and second year of Seminary, you spend 400 hours as a hospital chaplain. 100 hours of that time is in a classroom mostly reflecting on the patient visits while critiquing yourself, being critiqued, and critiquing others. The remaining 300 were contact hours providing pastoral care to the patients.
During this CPE experience, I came to a deeper realization that although I was in my mid-20s, I still looked about 15 years old. The doctors generally did not take me seriously as the chaplain. I had confided in my supervisor, who kept re-affirming my call/vocation saying I was meant to be there and connected me to the story of Jeremiah’s call as a young boy:
‘Ah, Lord God, I do not know how to speak for I am only a boy’.
In my final evaluation, she wrote that I needed to ‘re-write’ the script and it should read that ‘although I am young [and looking younger than I am], I am honored to be called into ministry at this time, in this place, and in this way’. THIS has stayed with me.
Honestly, we ALL have more callings/vocations than we can count. These begin with our role as children, then we mature into the role of parent, aunt/uncle, and perhaps ‘better’ friends than before. The power of our calls/vocations is that these give purpose to EVERYTHING we do, from the smallest word or action to the largest.
As we reflect this evening about how the Word, both written in Scripture and as bone and flesh as Christ, CALLS us into vocations lived through our words and deeds, let us reflect on the continual process of returning to our baptismal vocations of proclaiming the Word, seeking justice, acting with compassion and mercy, and loving and serving ALL people, ALL creatures, and ALL creation. Amen.
Focus Scriptures were Jeremiah 1: 4-6 and Luke 9: 23-24
Originally preached on Wed., 28 February 2018 at Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, IN).