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Sunday Reflections, January 17, 2016: The Story of Vocation

Last night at The Practice we continued in our ‘Visions of Vocation’ series, picking up where Steven Garber left off in the conversation of how our vocations are integral, not incidental, to the Mission of God. I don’t know about you, but it has genuinely surprised me just how vulnerable this conversation around vocation has been. For so many of us, the 40+ hours we spend at work, raising children, looking for work, or contributing through retirement are rarely acknowledged at church in any meaningful, integrative way with our faith. It has been so wonderful through these conversations, to see people connect, perhaps for the first time, that what they do and how they contribute in their week to week vocations matter to God.

Our opening liturgy was a beautiful and rich experience, with one moment standing out to me in particular. In light of MLK day, our time of confession was focused specifically on the ways in which we have participated in the oppression of others, whether out of our own brokenness, fear, ignorance or apathy; whether knowingly or unknowingly. Significantly, we entered into this confession time with this reading from Henri Nouwen;

“When we claim and constantly reclaim the truth of being the chosen ones, we soon discover within ourselves a deep desire to reveal to others their own chosen-ness. Instead of making us feel that we are better, more precious or valuable than others, our awareness of being chosen opens our eyes to the chosen-ness of others. 

That is the great joy of being chosen: the discovery that others are chosen as well. In the house of God there are many mansions. There is a place for everyone – a unique, special place. Once we deeply trust that we ourselves are precious in God’s eyes, we are able to recognize the preciousness of others and their unique places in God’s heart.”

These words truly hit home for me, as they so eloquently captured the oneness available to us in Christ that we now get to offer to others. I hope these words carry you forward in peacemaking on this significant day for racial reconciliation.

After we passed the peace of Christ to one another, John Perrine came forward to share his message on ‘The Story of Vocation.’ You can listen to his message here below, or through the Practice Podcast.

John so passionately and helpfully translated and explored the complex truths we entered into last week, beginning with a helpful invitation to understand vocation as marked by our contribution, not our compensation. In this way, no matter if we are a student, a stay at home parent, retired, working, or unemployed, each of us can begin to understand our vocation in larger terms than just our job, it is the complex and varied ways in which we contribute out of our lives to the world around us.

Most helpfully, John then led us through the story of vocation in the Bible, beginning in Genesis with the original good of work, then acknowledging the fall which has introduced so much struggle and toil into God’s good design for our vocations, yet finally moving toward redemption and restoration through what Christ has accomplished in us, that now can be enacted through us. Through Christ redeeming and restoring us, we too can redeem and restore our contributions to the world by understanding our vocations as integral not incidental to God’s kingdom.

I came away with two important truths in light of this teaching,

  1. What I do, matters to God.
  2. How I do, what I do, matters to God.

How empowering to see that our 9 to 5 matters in the big picture of God. How dignifying to know that no matter what our contribution may be, whether scrubbing toilets, preaching sermons, or raising children, it matters to God, and even more importantly, how we do it matters to God.

I think this how question is endlessly important, because it provides an opportunity for us to reclaim righteousness in our day to day lives. Having a right way of being as we live out our vocation is so important. Displaying the fruit of the spirit as we go about contributing makes all the difference as we redeem and restore what so often is toilsome.

Our practice time followed with an imaginative prayer to help each of us bring our vocation before Christ and be invited to see it through his eyes. It was such a joy to see this time of practice connect so meaningfully with people in the room. I heard many beautiful stories from individuals who were blessed by a new insight or understanding of their vocation as integral to Christ and His purposes. I encourage all of you to listen to the podcast if you can and experience this time of prayer for yourself, that you too may have space to bring your vocation before God and know that He sees your contribution.

Our Kingdom Practices this week are,

  1. When you pray, keep your vocation before Christ. Keep asking for eyes to see it as He sees it.
  2. Please check back here on the blog this week. We will be sharing stories from people in the community, specifically around how they are beginning to see what they do matters, and how they do what they do matters to God.

As you go about your week, may our familiar phrase, “Sunday is not the main event” go with you. It is your Monday – Saturday, your daily lives lived with and for God, that contribute and care for his Kingdom in the midst of toil.

Blessings,

Jenna Perrine & The Practice Team

 

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