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Sunday Reflections, Sunday 24, 2016: A Liturgy of Vocation

By January 25, 2016Uncategorized

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Last night we took a journey through the whole arc of God’s work in the world, seeing the ways that God’s work parallels our own vocations (which, of course, go beyond what we might think of as “work” to include the whole of who we are in the world – both inside and outside a 9-to-5).

We began with Creation, where the ideal of our being in the world was laid out. Humanity was made to have dominion, to be rulers over God’s creation, wisely stewarding it, filling it, subduing it, forming it so that all things were more and more in rhythm with God’s eternal rhythms.

If you’re like me, those very words “subdue”, “rulers”, “dominion”, have negative, not positive, connotations. It is virtually impossible even to imagine a world in which humanity might exercise dominion over creation in a way that aligns with God’s purposes. It is impossible to imagine a world absent The Fall.

Where God’s plans for humanity called for a harmonious existence with both creation and Creator, the Fall left us naked and afraid, dissonant. Our vocations, rather than making beautiful music out of God’s creation, became “contested”, discordant.

God identifies the results of this discord – pain in our labors, both inside and outside the home, and enmity in our relationships. What was a calling to make beautiful things out of God’s creation turned to dust.

We paused in the midst of this discord last night, allowing the effect of The Fall on our own sense of being in the world to linger. The pain and disconnection we experience on a daily basis was artfully drawn out with a paraphrase of Ecclesiastes 1. Instead of a purpose harmonious with the eternal music of God, our vocations have become “utterly boring”. “Nothing changes”, life is just “the same old thing” over and over and over again. Judging by the number of people who stood in resonance with those feelings, I’d say we as a community are well acquainted with the ways our vocations have become contested, how The Fall has marred the good gift God gave.

But that, of course, is not the end of the story. The Bible speaks of a future filled with life and healing, a future that is – despite the effects of the Fall – breaking in to the present even as we speak. The Bible speaks of Redemption.

Katie generously shared her story with us – actually, let’s call it what it is, she PREACHED – calling our attention to the fact that our vocation is not found in this or that perfect job, fully aligned with our deepest passions. Rather, our vocation is to love and to develop the fruit of the Spirit, something we might do wherever we might find ourselves. The ‘how’ of our being in the world, Katie reminded us, matters just as much as the ‘what’. We can bear fruit in any number of scenarios. Listen to Katie’s beautiful words here.

And this, of course, is the grand vision of vocation that Jenna and John led us through these past three weeks. Our vocation is not limited to the paid work we do. It is not defined by how much we make, how much recognition we get, or how much passion we feel. Our vocation is not what we are, but how we are. How we do our jobs, yes, but also how we parent our kids, love our friends, interact with those whose paths we cross, shop, even (dare I say it?) drive.

Redemption is the ultimate truth of our vocations. God offers us healing, healing from the boring, painful, disconnected vocations we experience, vocations which might seem like our only option. He offers us an alternative, a life connected with his deep purposes in the world wherever we find ourselves. He makes beautiful things out of the dust of our lives.

Blessings,

Curtis Miller and The Practice Team

Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Mark says:

    Practice team – thanks for helping us dive deeper into this topic of vocation! Thanks for the inspiration to keep working (no pun intended) through what this stirs up.

    For instance – this week I’m out of town with a dozen of my work colleagues in training. We’re told that top of mind in the workplace are the drivers of Profitability, Growth, and Agility. Everything else comes under one of these categories. Everything. Period.

    So I find myself wondering how to relate and/or integrate this mindset with a vision of Vocation as integral to the kingdom of God. Profit, Growth, Agility, and Creation, Fall, Redemption. Questions like how ‘love your enemies’ and ‘bless those who curse you’ can be put into action with demand to make this quarter’s numbers. How ‘let your Yes be Yes “impacts differentiating our solution with the competition’s. What I want is some great pithy answers to these. What I need is more grace to walk into and through these questions, with Jesus and the tribe.

  • J says:

    Hello!
    Been wanting to check in and say a big AMEN to Katie’s comments around calling! WHO we are will always be more important to God than WHAT we do. When I look at the bible, I see only a handful of people for whom God said, “do this.” Moreover, this appears to be an area the evil one has used against believers to stir up dissatisfaction, complaint, envy and anger, convincing us if we just knew our calling, had “that” job, we would be happy and content. Christ’s primary concern is to grow us in His likeness, and that may more often occur as we give up to Him the right to have a certain job that we believe would make us “happy.” Otherwise we make an idol of employment and dethrone Christ, as we seek satisfaction in the job market, instead of our Savior. Another concern is it devalues the holiness of every job. As I look about my room..door hinges, light switches, post it notes, file folders..probably no one dreams of these jobs but they are each needed and of value. Could God intend that the missionary is higher than the mechanic? Or the church choir than the CPA? Certainly it is well and good to seek a happy match, vocationally, but when we wrap ourselves into pretzels trying to divine a calling, or cannot be at ease without one, then we have lost our footing on the trail. Thanks so much for such an important message!

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