CALLING: Choosing to See Abundance

For many years now, I’ve been sort of fascinated with the whole idea of calling and what the notion of that means.  I thought maybe I’d start writing some of these thoughts on the blog every now and then.  I would love to hear your own thoughts, your own stories or notions of calling.

Yes, we claim that we are all called–each and every one of us.  I don’t know about you, but I probably put that in almost every sermon or lesson that I put together.  But do we truly believe that God has called us?  What does that mean?  Does it give us permission to just, then, continue down the road we’re on, thinking that that is where God plunked us down so surely that is where God called us to be?  And here’s one for you:  Is it a calling simply because God envisions it?  In other words, what happens to a calling that, for want of a better word, falls on deaf ears?  Is it still a calling?  What happens to that vision that God has for us if we never stop and open ourselves enough to see exactly what it is?  What happens to God’s calling for me if I’ve already figured out what my life is about?  What am I supposed to be?

I think all of us ask ourselves those questions.  But, do you think there is something that you’re “supposed” to be?  Well, I suppose it would be easier if God had simply set us on the right road and just told us to walk down the line in the middle, never veering, never turning, perhaps just stopping for rest every seven days or so.  Then we could all walk forward, perfectly aligned, like a bunch of good little Stepford soldiers marching to wherever God led us.  OK, so all we’d have to do is stay on the line, right?  Just keep moving.  Really?  I know there are those who claim that kind of “right and wrong”, “righteous and evil” theology but I personally don’t think that’s exactly how it works. 

After all,  remember what the all-powerful God did in creating us.  This all-powerful being gave away part of the Godself, relinquished part of what made God omnipotent.  God made a world and filled it with abundance.  And then God made us, images, however shadowy, of the very Godself that created us.  And God took a piece of the power that God held and gave it away.  It’s called free will.  All of a sudden, this great Creator was no longer omnipotent.  God can do everything–everything, that is, except make us choose.  And, really, if you were God (or, for that matter, even if you were you), wouldn’t you rather someone choose to love you, choose to be with you, choose to be who you envisioned them to be? 

So, I guess that straight line down the middle of the road has sort of faded away (or maybe it was never there in the first place!).   Maybe that was the whole idea.  Maybe we weren’t called to see the road at all but rather to see the abundance through which it takes us. Maybe that is the way we choose to love, choose to be with God, choose to love God.

And back to the other question:  Is it a calling if we do nothing?  Or does God’s calling to us come to be in our response?  First and foremost, God calls us into holiness, into that sacred mystery that is God.  God calls us to know the Godself, to know the very image of God in which we were created, to know the very best self that we can be.  But, more specifically, God calls each of us in unique ways.  God calls us to use our gifts, our talents, our individual circumstances, the persons in our life, to live that calling and become who God calls us to be.  God can do all things–all things, that is, except respond.  Look around.  Look at the incredible abundance that God has poured into your life.  What is your response?

Vocation does not come from willfulness. It comes from listening.  I must listen to my life and try to understand what it is truly about—quite apart from what I would like it to be about—or my life will never represent anything real in the world, no matter how earnest my intentions…Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue.  It means a calling that I hear.  (Parker Palmer, in Let Your Life Speak:  Listening for the Voice of Vocation, 4.)   

Grace and Peace,


Dancing in the Rain

Image from “Singing in the Rain” (1952)
(with Gene Kelly)

Lectionary Passage:  John 6: 1-21
To read this passage online, go to

We love this story.  (And they must have loved it in the first century because the writers of all four gospels chose to include it their unique account of the Good News of Jesus Christ.) Yes, we like the notion of Jesus providing everything we need, bursting in just when we are at the end of our ropes, just when we need help the most, and fixing the ails of our life (or at least feeding us lunch!).

But notice (don’t you hate that…yes, I’m about to ruin your image of super-hero Jesus pulling lunch out of a hat or whatever we thought he did!) that the story never says that the boy’s lunch was the ONLY food there.  Perhaps there were some people holding back what they had brought, afraid to offer it for community consumption because, after all, what if they ran out?  What if they needed it tomorrow or the next day or after they retire?  So, perhaps the miracle lies not in some sort of image of Jesus creating something from nothing but rather in the little boy himself.  He was first, freely offering what he had to Jesus and the Disciples to do whatever they needed to do with it.  Now, note what was in the little boy’s lunch–barley bread and fish.  Barley is a very inexpensive and somewhat “unglamourous” grain and fish were plentiful.  After all, they were right next to this huge lake.  (Just to get it in your head, the “Sea” of Galilee is actually a huge lake.)  In other words, this was the lunch of the poor.  The little boy was more than likely not from a family of means.  Perhaps his mom had lovingly packed all they had into his lunch so that her son could have this experience of seeing this great man Jesus of whom they had only heard.  But before that ever happened, the little boy stood and offered everything he had.

And, then, well you know how it goes.  The person next to him saw what he had done, thinking that no longer could he now with a clear conscience keep what he had brought tucked away.  And then the person next to that person saw him offer what he had.  It went on and on, a veritable Spirit moving through the crowd.  The message is right.  It WAS a miracle!  And when they had finished eating, they realized that it wasn’t that there was enough for all.  There was more!  There were leftovers that were then gathered into baskets.  Maybe they were for later.  Maybe they were for those who needed it.  Or maybe they were offered as holy doggie bags to remind us that God always gives us way more than we really need. 

So what about those of us who feel that we need to be prepared for the next storm that is coming around the bend?  Well, keep reading.  The passage goes on to say that the disciples started across the lake in the darkness.  And, sure enough, the storm began to rage–blowing winds, crashing waves, beating sheets of rain bearing down upon them.  Wouldn’t you know?  See, this is what we were afraid of!  But, there is Jesus.  “Do not be afraid.  Do not be afraid.”  What is interesting is that the account never says that Jesus calmed the storm.  Jesus calmed the disciples.  Jesus reminded the disciples that no matter what, no matter how hungry or unprepared they are, no matter what storms come up unexpectedly, they are not alone.  It is truly a story of extraordinary abundance.

I was going to write today on the David and Bathsheeba story but I got up early this morning to get a drink of water.  And standing at the window in my kitchen, I saw the words on a plaque I have on the window sill:  “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”  (I looked it up and the quote is attributed to Vivian Green.)  It’s a great thought.  Jesus is not a super hero that performs unexplainable miracles or plucks us out of the storms of life.  Jesus is much more.  When the storms come, when the winds rage, and when we just think we just don’t have enough for what’s coming, God invites us to dance, holding us until we find the rhythm that is deep within us and know the steps ourselves.

So, keep dancing!

Grace and Peace,


For those of you who are reading this through the St. Paul’s ESPACE link, welcome!  And for those who get this as a “blog” email, yes, I’m finally back!  I’m going to try to maybe do this 2-3 times a week.  Keep on me!  🙂  Shelli