I experienced my discontent while I was on vacation. I had one really great week in St. John's, but my other two weeks were less than I had hoped. All my friends were working. I had no where to go and nothing to do. Before too long I was feeling rather depressed. I began to fret about going "back to work" when all of a sudden the thought of continuing my ministry in the South End gave me a real sense of peace. I became excited and more focused than I had been in days. I could not wait for my vacation to be over. All of a sudden my feeling of restlessness and apathy began to wain - I had a purpose again.
That day, which happened to be a Thursday, I prayed using the order of prayer in "Celebrating Common Prayer - The Pocket Edition." God spoke powerfully to me through the Old Testament Canticle from Isaiah 42:5-8a. Check this out:
Thus says God, who created the heavens,
Who fashioned the earth and all who dwells in it;
Who gives breath to the people upon it
and spirit to those who walk in it,
"I am the Lord and I have called you in righteousness
I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
"I have given you as a covenant to the people,
a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind..."
The first part of this canticle is establishing who God really is - He has rightful authority and is in charge over all the earth. This is not a distant authority but a close relationship as is shown by God's provision of our very breath. This speaks to me of the freedom we have to walk intimately with God, to serve him through others, to make mistakes and even fail for God has given us grace to do even that. (Unlike failing at driving a standard, there will be no cause for shrieking - for God's grace is sufficient for us even in our failings).
The part that really jumped out at me was God's calling to walk in an upright manner before him. With his call comes his support. The purpose is to be his covenant to the people - Just as he promised Abraham - we are to be a blessing to the nations. How? By being light that people may see.
Now, I am not one to dump on vacations. I usually love vacations! But this experience brought to light a couple of things for me. First, I am hungry for community. While I was on vacation, and for the last several months, I have missed having a faith community to be a part of. I've taken steps to correct that this week. I've even selected a church to be a part of. That means I will have a community to worship with, to care for and be cared for by and to partner in mission with. Second, I have come to question churches that lack vitality, focus and action. Have they taken a vacation from their vocation? There is only one way to get it back. Together, let us allow God to lead us by the hand to be the blessing he has called us to be. This will require time to prayerfully discern God's will for us in our various contexts. It will mean reclaiming our vocation.
Practically speaking my vocation has been less than what it should be. I have limited my calling to something I do. I have defined my calling as my profession. The problem with this is that God does not want to reign in my professional life - he wants all of me. The same is true for His Church. Church is more then Sunday worship or mid-week programmes. Church is the family of God, present in the world as witnesses to the light. For me that light is expressed most fully in peace. (This is not a sleepy feeling - but is rather one of fulfillment, abundance, and excitement). My prayer is that Christ's Church may embrace God's calling fully that we may truly be a blessing.