A central concept for Martin Luther and the Lutheran tradition is “vocation”. Although it is not unique to Lutheranism, it is a distinctively central emphasis.
Last week, I shared that no one ever says “pick me, Pick Me, PICK ME” for the vocation of prophet. However, there is always an exception to the rule… Isaiah.
Isaiah has a distinctively different, out-of-this-world, and quite terrifying “call story”.
In a hallucination-type vision, Isaiah is near the throne of God listening to non-Cupid type angels singing the ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ which we join them and the faithful of all times and places during each Holy Communion rite.
Isaiah is aware that he is unworthy, so a Seraph with its 6 wings and fiery being, takes a piece of coal from the altar of God and presses it to Isaiah’s lips in order to cleanse and purify him.
Then, Isaiah hears the voice of God asking ‘who will I send as a prophet to my people?’. Isaiah, having this experience and having been cleansed… volunteers.
Isaiah’s first message to the people as a prophet is simple:
“Ya’ll don’t get it”.
The call stories of Simon, later known as Peter, and the other disciples are significantly different from Isaiah.
Simon and others are middle-class fishermen, who was not having a good day “in the office” and were on the shore cleaning their nets. Meanwhile, a crowd was gathering on the shore to listen to a teacher, who jumps into Simon’s boat and requests to be parked off shore to continue his teaching.
Afterwards, Jesus tells these fishermen to cast their nets again. Although doubtful of the result, they cast their nets and haul in an abundance. Then, Jesus calls them to follow him, to become fishers of people who gathers people together for the sake of the Kingdom.
We ALL have a multitude of calls, where our passions, gifts, and talents meet the needs of the world for the sake of the Kingdom.
Our professions are often vocations/callings.
Our roles and relationships among family and community are vocations/callings.
Our volunteering and hobbies may be vocations/callings.
Susan B. Anthony wisely stated:
“I distrust those people who know so well what God wants them to do,
because I notice it always coincides with their own desires”.
Our true vocations/callings are often not easily discerned and will never be affirmed by God and you alone. Our vocations/callings are always affirmed in our communities.
Over the last couple of weeks, I may have given a false perception that I believe power and authority are ‘bad’.
However, I have been involved and held leadership in organizations such as a commander in the Jr. Reserved Officer Training Corp. (JROTC), as a chapter and district officer in the National FFA organizations, and now as an Ordained Minister in the ELCA.
I have found power, authority, leadership, voice, and religion are tools not good or bad by nature but by the intention of the one willing it.
Jesus had power, authority, leadership, voice, and religion, which he willed to transform the ordinary into the extra-ordinary:
- the baptismal water into a sign of our gracious adoption as sons/daughters of God;
- water into wine, then wine into his own blood;
- bread into his own body; and
- ordinary fishermen into extra-ordinary disciples.
Our vocations are ordinary, but God transforms and wills these for the extra-ordinary.
We are called, by Christ, to will our power, our authority, our leadership, our voice, our religion, and our vocations to invite all people, gathering them together, for the sake of our mission. Our mission is to bring forth the extra-ordinary Kingdom of God by our ordinary baptismal promises:
- to proclaim Christ in word and deed;
- to seek justice;
- to act with compassion and mercy; and
- to love and serve ALL people.
Whatever our “call story”,
Whatever our vocations/calling,
May we answer.
May our ordinary lives be willed for the extra-ordinary Kingdom,
this is here now, near, and not yet fulfilled.