January 18, 2011

What is your calling?

The picture on the right comes from the front page of the website of the Episcopal Diocese of New Jersey. I graduated from seminary with all five of these fine priests, and not one of them is from, nor, I think, serves in New Jersey.

Five youngish, though by Episcopal Church picture taking standards, awfully white, priests used to convince you that maybe the priesthood is right for you. An interesting use of someone else's photograph, and part of what is wrong with the way we talk about call and ministry in the church.

Meaghan, the young woman on the right, and I were featured in a 2006 picture about young adults at General Convention. The article talked about the various sorts of young people who had showed up in Columbus, OH for the 10-day national gathering of the Episcopal Church, but then gave a full quarter page picture to two young adults who happened to be studying for ordination. Whether they tried to or not, they showed our track to be special, and the others, the lay folk who had paid their own way to come and learn more about their church, well they were just, sort of, there.

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul rejoices that he had only baptized a few of the believers there. He notes that he was called not to baptize but to proclaim the gospel. As a priest in the Church, I might be called (at least partly) to baptize, but we are all called to proclaim the gospel "not with eloquent wisdom," but with the words we know and understand. This Sunday we will pray for the grace needed to readily answer God's call in our lives, and so, good looking youngish priests aside, what is God calling you to do? How is God calling you to serve? What word has God given you to share? What is your calling?

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