A Reflection for Sunday

“And I heard the voice of the LORD saying, ‘Whom shall I send,
and who will go for us?’  Then I said, ‘Here am I!  Send me.’” (Isaiah 6:8)

At the heart of our Old Testament reading for the worship services this weekend, is the calling of the prophet Isaiah.  To be called by God, to proclaim his Word for the sake of others, is the whole matter of Vocation.  Too often in the history of the church, this vocational matter of proclaiming or serving God’s Word has been understood as something only pastors or clergy do.  Not so.  For God uses each and every one of us … with each of our unique gifts and talents, no matter how great or small … in each of our respective occupations/stations in life … to serve as instruments of God’s forgiving mercy and grace … for the sake of others and God’s kingdom come.  This is what Martin Luther calls the “priesthood of all believers” that begins in our baptism (cf. Luther’s Works 36: 113).  One of my all-time favorite definitions of Vocation comes from the wise and wily Frederick Buechner, former professor of Yale Divinity School and well-beloved Christian author-preacher.  Listen-in …

VOCATION.  It comes from the Latin vocare, to call, and means the work a person is called to by God.

There are all different kinds of voices calling you to all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God rather than of Society, say, or the Superego, or Self-Interest.

By and large a good rule for finding out is this.  The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do, and (b) that the world most needs to have done.  If you really get a kick out of your work, you’ve presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing TV deodorant commercials, the chances are you’ve missed requirement (b).  On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you have probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you’re bored and depressed by it, the chances are you have not only by-passed (a) but probably aren’t helping your patients much either. 

[And here’s my favorite part (!) …]  Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do.  The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  (Fred Buechner; Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC pp.94-95)

 j.r. christopherson
Senior Pastor­­­