Once you finally get a job, then you need to get a “real” job. Then you can expect to be laid off at least once in your life. Then you have to retool and enter the workforce again. Then even if you get your “dream” job, you might come to the realization that you’re destroying your family and your personal life, and the dream becomes a bit of a nightmare. Then you begin to realign all your goals. Then you begin to look toward retirement, and you begin to imagine what your vocation is going to be when you retire.
The life of Moses is so large and significant that it's hard to imagine that we have anything in common with him—until he opens his mouth. As soon as he starts to talk he sounds just like us. When he starts offering excuses, he's not saying anything that we haven't used as reasons for not surrendering our lives to God.
I have learned over the years that students, wearily carrying out a writing assignment, often have recourse to the dictionary. Assigned to write on a specific topic, they will begin with a dictionary definition. Let it never be said that I have learned nothing from reading their papers all these years.
The reflection on vocation in this issue by Gilbert Meilaender takes us from Vergil’s epic, the Aeneid, to the Reformation era to the 20th century, with many stops in between. He prodded me, as I’m sure he will others, to think more deeply about their own sense of vocation.
The lectionary loves to take biblical texts that share some things in common and then watch as worlds collide once differences come to light. This week’s comparison-contrast of call stories is a perfect case in point. The story in 1 Kings 19 comes directly from God’s lips to Elijah’s ears and from there to Elisha’s shoulders.
Mainline denominations have only begun to recognize the alarmingly low numbers of clergy under the age of 35. In my denomination, the United Church of Christ, I am one of only 207 clergy in that age bracket—about 4 percent of total clergy.
In his book Open Secrets, Richard Lischer describes his response to the challenges of his first congregational call. “My congregants were expected to welcome an inexperienced 28-year-old stranger into a community as tightly sealed as a jar of canned pickles.