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Friday FOCUS 26/04/24


Responding to Our Baptismal Call to Ministry           

Last Sunday, we acknowledged the call we all have to “vocation” in the Church—our vocation of serving within the church and our community.  

I call this “whole life ministry.” Our whole life reflects the covenant we made at baptism: a covenant we renew at various times throughout our lives.            

Often, when we speak of vocation in the Church our first thoughts are that ‘vocation is for the clergy.’ We each have vocation in the church and in our personal lives. Over the years, I have learned to speak of my first career as a vocation, as I would with the same sense as ‘ordained ministry’ being vocation           

The ordination process within the Church, requires is a variety of steps and resources for discerning a “call,” with various people along the road assisting in that discernment of ‘call.’ Often, the question posed is: ‘what spiritual gifts do you possess?’ Spiritual gifts are the various ways God’s grace is at work in our lives, equipping us for leadership in the church. A review of Paul’s letters to the Romans and the Corinthians gives us an opportunity to study those ‘textbook lists.’            

Also, the other side of the gift of vocation is “skills and abilities.”  

In the recent decades, the Church has given equal value to “spiritual gifts” and “skills and abilities.” The Church recognizes that we need both “God-given gifts” and “well-developed skills” to flourish in our daily lives. Being content in our vocation comes with a sense of “feeling professionally equipped.”            

Traditionally, the process leading towards ordination has been via residential-seminary training. Often, this process immediately follows obtaining a degree in liberal arts. More recently, theological education has been acquired through distance-learning, and on-line classes (due in part to the costs of full-time studies and relocation to seminary).           

One of the difficulties or missing aspects of seminary-training has been in the area of teaching management, and leadership, along with actual cultivation of practice and feedback. For the “mature” student, these are lessons that have been learned over “the years.”            

When we read the “pastoral” letters of scripture (such as the Letters to the Romans and to the Corinthians) we discover the teaching of practical skills and their importance. Paul often speaks of his being a ‘tentmaker pastor.’ Even today, people who serve as priests/pastors and in secular vocations are known as “tentmaker” clergy.            

A gift I have valued (throughout my years of ordained ministry) is the opportunity to listen to various members of the church: to learn of the many spiritual gifts and skills offered to the life of the community. Our church histories, (written down or passed down through memory), are filled with the names of these gifted servants.           

What skills have you shared or are prepared to share with your parish? 

Blessings in Christ, 
Archdeacon Brian+