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.
He finished seminary at the head of his class and could have gone on to earn a Ph.D. But he wanted to serve a local congregation--preferably a small one.
I performed my ministry with a recurring doubt in my head: Am I truly intended and called for this work?
When fairy tales begin with the familiar phrase “Once upon a time,” they signal a mythical point of departure: the beginning of a great adventure. If Matthew had known this phrase, he might have employed it to introduce the calling of the first disciples, since his version of this story begins with the breathless anticipation of a fairy tale.
The opening scene of Jesus’ public ministry left no doubt: a commitment to Jesus involves a commitment to build communities of peace and justice. But first comes the calling.