Shifting from ‘adulting’ to vocation

by Demi Prentiss

A recent blog post caught my eye. While it was aimed a young adults, I think the message is a profound one for the entire faith community:

“According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, young adults have lower employment levels and smaller incomes than previous generations. In addition, young adults are more frequently strapped with student loan debt which impacts their options for housing and reduces their buying power. Young adults are waiting longer to complete traditional milestones of adulthood like marriage and starting a family. At the same time, new milestones of adulthood have yet to emerge.

“When my young adult friends say “I’m tired of adulting” they are most often sharing their frustrations over these realities. They feel stuck because in many ways they are. To adult is to become an effective manager of your life and while that is good, it feels incomplete.

“This hunger for meaning is where I believe communities of faith can help. Revitalized communities of faith provide alternatives to “mindless adulting” by equipping men and women – both young and old – to discover and live their vocations. In these communities, stale catechesis is replaced by a Culture of Encounter and Vocation.

“How do congregational leaders begin this revitalization?

  • Let go of old program models that don’t work
  • Create space for people to listen and hear God who is calling
  • Help people identify their gifts
  • Appreciate the diversity of talents present in the community
  • Call gifts from the margin to the center
  • Uphold the dignity of all work
  • Place people in relationship with one another so needs can be shared without shame
  • Celebrate and find meaning through story sharing”

What might our faith communities look like if believers were formed to discover and live their vocations – not simply on the church grounds or on a mission trip, but every day? How do we uphold and celebrate the daily life ministries of all the baptized? What needs to change in your faith community to take the first step in this direction?

Advertisements

Am I ever ‘enough’?

by Demi Prentiss

It’s easy to forget that Jesus calls each of us to be a world-changer, even if it’s only within the three-foot radius around us. Claiming our own every-day mission means living into our ability to offer – with God’s help – God’s compassion to those who come inside that three-foot zone – and maybe, sometimes, even beyond it.

Last week, via the daily email from the Society of St. John the Evangelist, Brother Curtis Almquist offered this reminder:

Don’t ever apologize for what little you have and what little you are. Don’t ever apologize for that. God is well apprised of who we are and what we bring to the table of life. That is our offering….

There’s something about your own brokenness that informs what you have to give.  I’d even go so far as to say that the more you are broken, the more you have to give.… The bread is broken, and in the breaking is multiplied.  That is somehow your own story.

“God is well apprised of who we are and what we bring….” Just like the boy whose loaves and fishes fed a multitude (John 6:1-13), we are called to offer who we are and what we have. That’s enough, once we hand it over to the Power that created all we see and know. And sometimes, God gives us eyes to see the miracle that unfolds, once we’ve had the courage to believe that it’s God, not us, in charge of multiplication.

You are God’s viceroy, God’s representative.

You are God’s stand-in, a God Carrier.

You are precious; God depends on you.

God believes in you and has no one but you

To do the things that only you can do for God.

Become what you are.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Where do we find God’s kingdom?

by Fletcher Lowe

Several years ago, a friend of mine came to me and said that she felt a call to go to another country as a missionary.  In our conversation, I suggested that she spend a few weeks considering her current place as a teacher to be her mission field.  Later she came back with a new understanding.  She stayed in our city and developed a deep sense of calling with her teaching profession.

Kristina Muñoz, Aviano Elementary School gifted education teacher, watches students participate in a group exercise. Her passion is to help students learn and grow. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Areca T. Bell/Released)

Perhaps that was what Jesus was trying to say to his 12 apostles in Matthew 9:5-7. He was explicit – Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, rather go to the lost house of Israel.  As you GO, proclaim the good news: the kingdom of heaven is near. In short GO, but go to your own familiar territory. Now for some like Barnabas and Paul and countless others over the centuries, going to another place has been a calling.  But for most Jesus followers including you and me, our calling is right here.

We need to hear Jesus speaking to you and me where we live and move and have our being – namely our places of work, our communities and our homes.  You and I are called to GO there, to proclaim the good news: the kingdom. of heaven is near. If that sounds a bit grandiose and vague, let’s put some flesh on it.  Think the Baptismal Covenant.  It is our commissioning as the Baptized.  It spells out how we as the Baptized are to live into our Baptism daily, or in Jesus’ words: how we are to go to proclaim the good news that the kingdom of heaven is near.

Think about this for a moment:  Every time that you and I

  • Proclaim by word and example the good news of God in Christ,
  • Seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves;
  • Strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being,

we are helping the kingdom to break through into real life.

The Lord’s Prayer reminds us: Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven.  Whenever we do that “everyday” work – proclaim, love, seek and serve, strive, respect – we join forces with God in bringing God’s kingdom on earth.  So, let us GO forth into our worlds of home and work and community rejoicing in the power of the Spirit! Alleluia.

Are you a missionary? The footprint test –

by Demi Prentiss

Michael Piazza is the pastor of Virginia Highland Church in Atlanta, Georgia. In his Oct. 26 edition of “Liberating Word,” his blog, he wrote:

From out of a small Sunday school class in Scotland went a young man named David Livingston. He went to Africa, traveling from village to village treating the sick and telling them about God’s love. Many years later, a missionary visiting one of those villages began to tell a story about a gentle compassionate man named Jesus. An old woman interrupted him and said, “Many years ago that man visited our village, but we called him David.”

 

From a Sunday school in Scotland, you get the footprints of Jesus in the sands of Africa. Are the footprints of Jesus to be seen where you live and work?

 

How would your life be different if you saw yourself as a missionary of God’s compassion and grace? We are not the kind of missionaries who claim to have all the answers and demand that people change their mind and see it our way. Our only job is to offer a word of hope, the hope we have found; a touch of grace, the grace that is beginning to change our lives; a sign of compassion, the compassion offered to us when we least deserved it.

In the places where you live and work and play and study and drive and shop and worship, are the footprints of Jesus visible there?  How might you encourage others – and yourself – to make sure those are the footprints you leave?

Life Is Ministry —

or All Ministry is Apostolic, Presbyteral, and Diaconal (Part 1)

by Edward L. Lee, Jr.

How’s that for a mind-boggling church-y title! But please, keep reading.

First, let’s start with the Book of Common Prayer. Go to page 855 in the Catechism and the section titled, “The Ministry.” It begins:

Q: Who are the ministers of the Church?

A: The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons.

Q: What is the ministry of the laity?

A: The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; …

The rest of this section identifies and spells out the particular ministries of bishops, priests, and deacons with such words as “apostle” (bishops); “to bless and declare pardon” (priests/presbyters); and “servant” (deacons).

In short, we are a Church of four orders of ministers, not the traditional three. The first is the laity, the baptized, followed by the ordained ministries of bishops, priests, and deacons. This sequence is one of elemental and essential equality in its understanding of ministry, of Christian discipleship. It’s communal, not hierarchical, and certainly not patriarchal. The primary and front line of ministers are the baptized laity; the baptized ordained persons empower, support, and sustain the laity like, for example, the conductor of an orchestra. Yet the result is always a concert of communal endeavor and commitment, an enterprise of equals. That’s ministry.

Or as expressed insightfully by a perceptive presbyter:

“Life is ministry. Ordained ministry is a role within the ministry of the people of God, and I think we lose our bearings when we see it as something other than facilitating the whole.” (James Callaway, Trinity News, Trinity Church, NYC, Summer 2014)

Amen! Life IS ministry and the baptized laity live it daily in the tasks and on the frontiers of their lives. And it’s as apostolic and presbyteral and diaconal in character and function as that of those facilitating clergy who participate with them in Christ’s relentless yet glorious “work of reconciliation in the world.”

In my next blog (Part 2) I’ll break open those churchy words in the title and illustrate how every person’s ministry is apostolic, presbyteral and diaconal. Stay tuned.