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Tag Archives: Vocation

Answer the Call

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. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 10, 2019 in Sermons

 

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Lenten Meditation: The Word Sends

“For faith must come freely without compulsion. Take myself as an example.
I opposed indulgences and all the papists, but never with force.
I simply taught, preached, and wrote God’s Word; otherwise I did nothing.
And while I slept, or drank Wittenberg beer with my friends Philip and Amsdorf, the Word so greatly weakened the papacy that no prince or emperor ever inflicted such losses upon it. I did nothing; the Word did everything.”

Martin Luther, Eight Sermons at Wittenberg (1522)

We are concluding our series based on Journey of Lent: the Seven Wonders of the Word. We have briefly explored and pondered how the Word, both written Scripture and Christ, has the ability to create, call, command, shape and sustain. The remaining wonders of the Word is its ability to save and send.

Although I did not and will not focus on the ability of the Word to save, I had alluded to the widely held misconceptions regarding my responsibilities as a called and ordained Minister:

  1. It is not my responsibility to ‘shape’ you into Biblical Living and Old Testament law-abiding Christians. The Word shapes us.
  2. It is not my responsibility to ‘sustain’ (‘fulfill’) you in your spiritual journey.
    Again, the Word sustains us.
  3. It is not my responsibility to bring anyone to faith or to ‘save’ them.
    Again, the Word saves us.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2018 in Sermons

 

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Lent Meditation: The WORD Calls

“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. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on March 9, 2018 in Sermons

 

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Healing for Vocation

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Last Sunday, I talked about there being a common theme in Mark you would hear a lot this year. The theme is that the Kingdom of God has come, it is near, and it is not yet fulfilled.

Mark has a second common theme that was in our passage last week, this morning, and will be many times this year. We call it the Messianic secret because Jesus heals people and casts out demons but will not allow them to identify Jesus as the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One that they (the Israelites) have been awaiting.

I also shared that Mark’s first chapter is extremely busy…
Jesus is baptized.

Jesus is tempted in the wilderness (by Satan).

Jesus preaches his mission to proclaim the Word, and to release the prisoners and those held captive. Afterwards, he is chased out of his hometown.

Jesus calls the disciples into new vocations, into a new way of being, and into relationship with him.

Jesus performs his first exorcism in Mark.

This morning, we now have three stories that may seem disconnected and yet are deeply intertwined with one another.

When Jesus called Simon (who will become Peter), Andrew, James, and John from their boats to become “Fishers of Men”, he was calling them to leave behind their professions and their families. Thus, we often imagine that they were single men.

BUT, did you notice who the woman healed in our text today is? Simon’s mother-in-law.

Now, it is not a secret that at Jesus’ time the majority of the community believed if a person was sick it was one of two reasons either (1) the person had an unclean spirit/demon or (2) the person was being punished for their own sin or the sin of their previous generations.

Ponder that for a moment. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2018 in Sermons

 

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Invitation to Follow

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I have previously said that this Time After Epiphany is a series of God’s manifestations in Jesus as the Christ and Christ’s ministry. We see these manifestations in various, distinctive ways.

Last week, we heard the story of Jesus calling Nathaniel and a few other men to be disciples. The story was not (necessarily) dramatic… Jesus basically says:
“Hey, I saw you sitting under the fig tree. Come, follow me and do something with your life”.

Today, we have very different call story in our gospel.
Simon (who later will be “Peter”) and Andrew are in their boats fishing. They were fishermen by trade. We also have John and James (Sons of Zebedee) are in their boat mending nets, because they too were fishermen by trade.

Jesus is standing on the shoreline and shouts to them (in their boats) saying “Follow Me”.
We do not get this ‘sense’ in the English, but in the Greek it is a command: “Follow Me”.

It is not so much a question and not so much a pleasant invitation, but it is a ‘forceful’ one.

BUT, in the philosophical writings of the era “to follow” meant “to be in relationship with”. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2018 in Sermons

 

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Invitation to Vocation

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There are inter-connected themes and threads throughout scripture in different stories. These are not always the easiest to recognize or to piece together.

I want to talk this morning about Samuel, his calling, and this ‘call story’ but I want to start from the beginning. His story parallels a story that comes later in our scriptures, which is the story of Mary (the mother of Jesus).

On Christmas Eve (am and pm), I spoke about Mary’s story focusing on those pieces that we do not know or always hear.

Samuel’s mother was Hannah, who was one of many wives. Hannah, unlike the other wives, had been unable to have a child. She spent time in the temple praying and praying that God would give her a child. She prayed so intensely that the priest Eli thought she was drunk and almost removed her from the temple.

Hannah would have her wish granted, her prayer heard. She gave birth to a son, who she named Samuel. Hannah, similar to Anne (mother of Mary), would give him to the Temple into the service of God and under the care of the priest Eli.

Eli had a couple sons, who were significantly older in age than Samuel. These sons were, well, trouble makers. These sons were not pleasing to the Lord. These sons dismissed their expectation to serve as priests and the Lord.

Samuel as a little boy, perhaps approximately seven or eight years old, was sleeping one evening when he is awoken by a voice calling his name. Samuel thinks it is the priest (Eli) calling for him, so he jumps out of bed and responds “here I am, you called me?”.

Eli responds “No. I did not call you. Go back to bed.”

A voice calls again “Samuel”.

Samuel: “Here I am, you called me.”
Eli: “No. I did not call you. Go back to bed”.

Again, a voice calls “Samuel”.

Samuel: “Here I am, you called me”.
Eli: “No. I did not call you, but you know what… maybe you are hearing the Lord.”

Note the scripture says that visions, experiences of God, and divine mysteries were not common at this time.

Samuel returned to bed. When he hears his name called again, but this time he responds “here I am, Lord, your servant is listening”.

Samuel is told that he will be a prophet (a mouth piece for God) and receives the first message he needs to deliver. The message is for Eli, his mentor, an aging man whose life had been and was still in service to the Lord. However, Eli was being warned due to his lack of discipline and concern for his children’s unpleasing behavior to the Lord.

Imagine:
You are a seven years old child and you must tell your mentor that the wrath of God is coming for him and his family.

That is NOT something that I would want to deal with in my 30s, let alone as a young child.

Samuel continues to have conversations with God. Samuel continues to grow into the role of a prophet gaining respect with the Lord, Eli the priest, and the people as a whole.

This ‘call story’ of Samuel is a prime proto-type.

The role of a prophet, or one who speaks prophetically, is to speak for God serving as a mouth piece. The messages delivered by a prophet are often not words you want to hear. It is not sunshine and roses, warm and fuzzes, or unicorns. However, it is the task of speaking truth into the world including needed changes to come.

If I took a poll of our world today, many people would say we also are living in a time when visions of the Lord are rare. I believe many people would also say we live in a time when we need prophetic voices to tell us the “way of God” or to be a voice calling for us to “prepare the way” as we heard it in Advent.

BUT, what if I said that similar to Samuel, we all have the vocation to be prophetic?
We received it in our baptismal waters, which I spoke about last week. It is included in our promises to seek justice, to act with mercy, to love, and to serve.

ALSO, there are still prophets (speaking truth into the world) today, for there have been, there are, and there will continue to be people speaking prophetically.

In fact, tomorrow (01-15-2018) is a celebration of a man who has been described as a prophet. The man is Martin Luther King Jr. (the face of the American Civil Rights Movement).

Note: In addition to being named after his father, he was named after Martin Luther (founder of Lutheranism).

Martin Luther King Jr. spoke in a world, a place, a time that was filled with injustice. He spoke a message of truth that was not necessarily well received. Yet, he had that calling (vocation) to do so.

In the Lutheran tradition, we hold vocation as one of the highest teachings in our Christian faith. Our vocations, however, speak to more than one profession, relationship, or role in our lives for we all answer the call of multiple vocations.

We all have a Christian vocation rooted in our baptismal waters.

We all have a vocation to speak truth into darkness bringing forth God’s light.

We all have a vocation in our relationships as mothers/fathers, sons/daughters, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, and friends.

Therefore, we may have more vocations than we can count. BUT the theme that should thread through all of them is to act with love, mercy, and compassion while seeking justice. As Micah (a prophet) would add “to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

My hope is that during this week, this season of Epiphany (“ah ha” moments), we take the time to question our vocations, to explore what it means in our daily lives inside the church, our families, and our communities. Ultimately, this was Christ’s invitation to Andrew, Peter, and Philip to join in his mission, his vocation, to love and serve people. It is an invitation extended to Nathaniel, who has an epiphany of his own about who Christ is and Christ’s mission/vocation.

May we have that same epiphany in the week to come and beyond. Amen.

Focused Scripture was 1 Samuel
Originally Preached on January 14, 2018 at Trinity Lutheran Church (Union City, IN)

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2018 in Sermons

 

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