Even though ‘Vocation Sunday’ isn’t until May (where it sits every year) you could be forgiven for thinking we have the dates wrong as we seem to be thinking about vocation early.
Our ‘Renewal of Baptism Vows’ service two weeks ago set us on this journey, with a link made frequently by me between Baptism and Vocation, the first being the basis for the second.
On Sunday, we followed Andrew and Simon Peter as they heard their calling to ‘Come and See’ and thus began their journey into vocation – and in the case of Simon Peter what a costly journey that proved to be. (If you missed Wolfgang’s sermon on Sunday or would like to read it again it can be found here SermonJohn1_29-42)
This coming Sunday our bible readings offer us both the calling of Jeremiah and of Paul.
Jeremiah, as youngster, hears God say: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations… Do not say ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them for I am with you….”
The closing phrase being significant, for Jeremiah too suffered much in his vocation.
Paul’s story maybe more familiar to us. A zealous persecutor of early Christians, as an expression of his devoutness and integrity of theological understanding, he is temporary blinded so that he may hear his calling and the rest is history. We know that he goes on to become the greatest missionary of all time; the man singly most responsible for taking the good news of God’s love to non-Jews and thus to you and I in our turn…..
Paul too had a vocation that cost him much – imprisonment, violence and abuse.
There are countless other such accounts in the Bible. It is no bad thing to reflect on some of them, to find a ‘good fit’ for you and what you discern your calling to be.
There are three things I wish to say here for our reflection:
- Firstly, if you have been baptised you have a vocation – you may not know what it is, you may not have been brave enough to ask yourself what it might be, it may change in the space of a life time, but if you have been baptised you have a vocation.
- Secondly, not everyone’s vocation is exercised in the context of church. This is really important. There are many who exercise a vocation in the work place and / or at home caring for children or ageing relatives.
The questions here for us at St Catherine’s are: “How can we pray for you?” “How can we best support you in your vocation?” rather than heap burden and guilt on people, who are already maxed out, for not helping more in church.
- Thirdly there are times when life seems to park us in a ‘lay by’. This may be because we have moved, or are between jobs, or due to a period of illness, or because of ageing…these need not be fallow times, on the contrary. They can be unique periods when we discern a fresh calling. We may have more time – to do or to pray.
Let me end with some anecdotes:
- I took home communion to a couple in their 90s for several years in my last job. “We can’t do anything any more (mobility and failing eye sight and also a stroke) but we can pray.” So they prayed their way round the village and every month I took them news of church issues or people who needed prayer and left them to it. They were given the gift of time and that’s how they chose to use it.
- A young person between jobs, took time out to make herself useful to the church in which she worshipped, for two years. Learning much and giving much. It was a once in a life time opportunity and that is how she used it for great blessing. The memory of that experience continued to nurture and encourage her for many years as she got busy with work, family and life, thus having very little time to be able to serve the church.
- In the parish in which I was a curate, almost 30 years ago, in a (surprisingly) posh bit of East London – most of our members between the ages of 30-65 lived out their vocations in the work place. Living all week on flights and the underground and in meetings with multi million budgets in play – recharging their batteries at church was a key feature of my job then.
May we all be blessed in our reflections on what Vocation means to us at this stage in life and in our attempts to support one another in whatever shape those Vocations may be, and in our enabling the children and young people to grow into their Vocations too.
- those thinking of baptism
- those preparing for confirmation
- Pfarrer Sturm, the new Old Catholic priest, who will be licensed this coming Saturday
Advance Notice: Weltgebetstag – World Day of Prayer
This year’s World Day of Prayer is on Friday, 6th March 2020. The Markuskirche in Stüttgart-Süd, Filderstraße 22/Ecke Römerstraße is acting as host this year for our area. The country which is providing the liturgy this year and which we are focussing on is Zimbabwe. Everybody is invited to attend.
Should you wish for more information and would like to be involved in the preparation of the service you are also invited to attend any or all of the evenings proposed: Monday, 27th January at 7.30 pm (19.30), Tuesday 4th Feburary at 7 pm (19 ) and Tuesday 11th February at 7 pm (19).
For any more information ask Lauris, who is our church representative for the Weltgebetstag.