1.26.2009

On call

Our Kairos community has been focusing on the call of the disciples, and our own sense of calling. This has resonated with my personal journey of late. We've been conversing about what it meant for Peter, Andrew, James and John to drop their nets, for Abraham to leave his comfort zone, for Jeremiah to realize he had been called before he was born, for the 12 and then the 70 to get their marching orders.

This topic has generated some deep and really personal conversation. Do I have to leave my job? Is it different for those with families vs. those who are more flexible? Must I "go" at all? Do I just need to be open to what the Spirit might be saying to me? Can I follow right here in my own life?

As I continue to reflect on this, I think we have a tendency to over focus on the big, extreme things. It's too easy to feel that unless I change everything and give up my daily life it isn't enough, or to figure that I can't leave my nets so I can't do anything. We naturally want to focus on what we do, on who we are in the world.

The call of Peter and company, the story of dropping their nets and following, is getting at something much more central and basic to us:
Following Jesus starts with a recognition that our lives are not our own, but Christ's.
When Jesus walked down the shore and these young men turned their back on fishing, their purpose changed more than their occupation. They were no longer just fishermen, whose goal was to bring in a catch. They were now followers of a teacher, whose purpose was to help him change lives and all of history.

There are certainly glimpses in later scripture of these same men out in the boat, putting down and pulling up nets, and cooking fish for breakfast to suggest that they still plied their old trade at least occasionally. But they were not the same old fishermen (just like Jesus was no longer just Joe-the-carpenter's son).
Following meant they had signed on to a mission that was larger than them, and that affected where they went and what they did.
That mission allows us to live purposefully, to ask purposeful questions, and to make intentional changes to our lives to align with that purpose. But that wrestling and "going" only makes sense in light of the bigger recognition that our lives are not our own but God's.

But once we recognize that we are part of something so much bigger than just us, we can live "on call" in the midst of whatever we are doing. Once we believe Jesus when he says "the kingdom of God is within you," once we accept his invitation to help bring that kingdom into our daily reality, we can follow whether we sell it all and move to Africa or raise a family in Bucks County.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Blogging is new to me... But every once in a while, I give it a shot... Not having been a part of the actual conversation, I'll just spill this out there.

The gospel reading from Mark this week is one of my favorites. It's brought me peace this week, as another who is struggling with that sense of call. So funny how we're struggling with similar thoughts, except I've been thinking South America rather than Africa...

I work a full time secular job, and I'm enrolled in Luther's Distributed Learning M. Div. program - the hourly equivalent of another full time job. (I still have to pinch myself at times because I heard Fretheim and Brueggemann speak in person about a week ago. I'm taking a class with Paul Sponheim this semester...) I would be lying if I didn't say I am worried and a little afraid of how I am going to fit everything into my life. And sometimes, I absolutely consider selling it all!

"The time has been fullfilled" - that's "kairos", GOD's TIME (this makes our chronological understanding feel so meager to me...) "the kingdom of God has come near" - in the Greek, the kingdom is HERE (not near). "Repent, and believe in the good news" - in the Greek, REPENT means to change your mind, change your way of thinking...

This is Jesus' first public sermon, he's proclaiming himself with some urgency - I AM HERE - the Messianic age is here. The time that has been prophesied is NOW. Change the way of your thinking and BELIEVE. (The people to whom he was speaking KNEW exactly what he was saying and how important it was! Back to our meager understanding... I can't wait to study Isaiah in depth!)

The kingdom of God IS here, now in 2009 - because we are here, now. The church is an exciting place to be in 2009. It's a bit of heaven on earth when we feed a homeless person a peanut butter sandwich, when we build a well for someone who needs water, when we love someone who needs to feel God.

I am also reminded of a favorite Frederick Buechner quote, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." The hardest part for me is figuring out my own deep gladness... (As I get older, it only seems to get easier for me to identify what it's NOT.) As I walk this walk, I think all we can do is try to listen and respond to God in our lives as best we can. We make choices and decisions - and God graciously accepts all of them! I have to believe that he will put me where he needs me the most.

I worshipped 3 times yesterday - I assisted - sang the traditional kyrie at the early service. Truly worshipped at 11am, then read the lessons and assisted with a baptism at 6pm.

I got to read the Mark gospel out loud, and it felt good. "The time has been fulfilled, the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe the good news." Then I anointed a little girl who is about the same age I was when I was baptized. She was so excited, and I looked her in the eyes and smiled when I said, "Alexis, you are a child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever." And it felt really good!

Maybe that's a sign in conjunction with all these thoughts that are mulling through my mind... I don't know... But you said it, Bob - when we REPENT, when we change our way of thinking and make intentional changes in our lives in response to God's call... No matter what we do - it is for his purpose, and it makes him happy.

Miss you! Jen