I was sitting in a seminary classroom, taking part in an internship program, and the professor was waxing eloquently about calling. It was all good. She was quoting Frederick Buechner and Howard Thurman, and describing vocation as our deepest joy and what makes us come alive.
I am intrigued by the emphasis on call in 1 Samuel 16. Because I am a theological educator, I am even more fascinated by the role each of us can play in nurturing someone’s sense of call. Saul and David are the key “called” protagonists in the story. But it is Samuel who carries, clarifies, and extends God’s call.
We all live with many callings in life, and the greatest is not to be a pastor—much less to be in the right job at a particular congregation.
The call of Abram is one of my favorite stories in the whole Bible. I have moved quite a lot, and the experience of packing up my life in England to move to the U.S. nearly three years ago is still fresh in my memory. The challenges that face Abram and his family are exciting, probably daunting, but certainly not without their cost. I love the way the call is vague about the destination: it seems that getting moving is more important than knowing the final details.
I once saw children's ministry as a steppingstone to something else. This attitude put me in league with the hindering kind of disciples.
Seekers often want Christianity to be a set of ideas one knows to be true, or at least to provide a feeling of certainty.
One of our tradition's best ideas is that God calls us to become all we were created to be. One of its worst is that only clergy are called.
In a recent interview, Diane Keaton told the story of when she first decided to adopt a child. She was driving her father home from the hospital to die.
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.
Why, the customs officer wanted to know, was I traveling to Canada just to preach? It was a question to ponder.