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"Vocation" - Monday Moment - September 18, 2023

Happy Monday, my friends! As some (most?) of you know, I recently started the Master of Divinity (MDiv) program at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio (MTSO). One of the questions that every theology student is trying to answer is what am I supposed to do with my life? For many of us the answer involves God in some way and remarkably I’m finding that I’m far from the only one whose story includes feeling called at a young age yet responding in ways other than ordained ministry for a length of time. I’m also not alone in working on a MDiv—THE degree for ordained ministry in Christianity—and still not knowing that I will pursue ordination.


When I was a teen, I explored many different Roman Catholic religious. Time and again well-intentioned vocations directors—the people charged with facilitating one’s entrance into a religious community—encouraged me to go to college, live a little, and then return to discernment. At 15 or 16 and a zealous “on fire for Jesus Christ” church kid, that advice was tantamount to a slap in the face and a sharp rejection. When I protested to one particular Jesuit, he told me to consider that if I was doing life right then I would still be engaged in ministry. At 36 I recognize that my work in higher education and now my work with LOVEboldly was and is the very heart of ministry.


In Matthew 9:37-38 Jesus says, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” This is one of the quintessential passages about ministry from the New Testament. Yet, Jesus never specifies the kind of workers, just that they be laborers. Similarly, the work of building the Kin-dom of God does not require only a priestly class. In fact, the Kin-dom by its very nature requires less clergy than it does folks in the pews; less Masters of Divinity than it does honest people showing up to help.


There are many ways to conceptualize and discuss our unique vocations. One of the scholars my class is reading this semester evoked vocation in terms of place and how communities are built. Others have used terms akin to meaning making. Still others have posited vocation as having purely divine origins like Moses and the Burning Bush. I’m beginning to see vocation as a narrative created by all the people we meet, experiences we have, places we live, times we live through, and the sundry influences large enough to catch our attention and so small that we barely notice them.


What is your vocation? What have you learned about making and creating your own vocation?


Let us pray: God, who has ordered the universe so that humans may exist and flourish, grant us a sense of our vocation wherever it may come and however we may discover it. Help us to see that all our experiences, all our interactions, all our lives are part of that vocation even when it doesn’t seem like it to us. We ask this knowing you will guide us. Amen.


Blessings on your weeks, my friends. Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.


Faithfully,


Ben

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