What I’m Thinking: Troublesome Call


Pastors like to talk about the “call to ministry” – and we really do believe that it’s not just pastors, but everybody – that God calls to ministry. Nevertheless, there are problems…

Here’s a transcript:

I’m still wearing my Pentecost red, although this coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday on the Christian calendar, and I’m thinking about the 6th chapter of Isaiah. It’s the call of Isaiah.

Isaiah, in the temple, has this vision of angels and of God seated there before him. God says, “Who shall I send? Who will go for me?” And Isaiah shouts, “Here I am! Send me!”

Pastors, it must be said – we tend to be obsessed with the idea of “call.” I suppose it’s an occupational hazard. Some years ago, somebody asked me why it was that pastors tend to look at their appointments to different churches as calls, and didn’t this somehow or other set us apart from everybody else?

My reply was that I did, in fact, think that God called people to many kinds of work and occupations – some of them things that we get paid for, some of them things that we do not – and that it was not just ministers or pastors who responded to a divine call.

I will say that my explanation proved unpersuasive in that instance.

You see, the weakness to that explanation is that it does, in fact, imply that those who work in occupations or those who fulfill tasks that our society looks down upon, that we compensate very badly, that these people are somehow or other called to some lesser place than those who are at the top of the socio-economic ladder, or to those who are in positions of leadership and responsibility.

Well, I think that’s a problem with how we measure worth in our society. It is not actually a problem with understanding the summons of God.

But I am also thinking about persons who were summoned out of this life this past week, and I have no doubt that God had nothing to do with the violence that broke out at the high school in Santa Fe, Texas, or at the other high school where one person died and one person was wounded in Georgia. And I do think that our thoughts and prayers must turn to action.

We must, I believe, find a way to live such that we are not constantly prepared to kill one another. We need to lay down our arms.

We also need to raise our sons and our daughters in such a way that they do not respond to disappointments or frustration with violence – with murder.

These are great challenges, but we must act. We must turn our prayers into action.

That’s what I’m thinking. I’m curious to hear about what you’re thinking. Please leave me your thoughts in the comment section below; I’d love to hear from you.

Just another thought for today, and, indeed for, I suspect, some days and weeks ahead: a thought about those who are affected by the lava flow in lower Puna. If you would like to help, I encourage you to visit the United Church of Christ Disaster Response giving page. Donate through Emergency USA. Thank you so much for your prayers and for your action.

Categories What I'm Thinking | Tags: , , | Posted on May 20, 2018

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