Presbyterians Today

APR-MAY 2018

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38 APRIL/MAY 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay else. "Go to a place I will show you." How many of us would be willing to leave our longtime home and just go where a disembodied voice told us to, without the faintest idea where we were headed? Not a very grown-up thing to do. Moses resisted God's call because he felt inadequate, unworthy. Even after he agreed to head for the land of milk and honey, he was continually assailed by his follow- ers, who questioned his leadership, if not his sanity. And Moses was insecure to begin with! How would that kind of reaction from your family and friends affect your confi- dence and resoluteness? Mary, visited by an angel telling her of her call to become the parent of God, was surprisingly willing, but she had more than a few questions to which she wanted answers. How willing are we to be convinced in the face of our own skepticism? Sometimes God's call is obvious. Other times it is well hidden. Sometimes we greet God's call with eager- ness. Other times we greet it with dread. Sometimes we're delighted. Other times we're furious. Often we are confused and doubtful if it really is God calling us. But God knows all this and calls us all anyway. Incredible. Just incredible. Thanks be to God! Jerry Van Marter is interim director of communications for the Office of the General Assembly and stated clerk for the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky. O n a recent Sunday, I worshiped at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Tacoma, Washington, where I was baptized, confirmed and ordained to the ministry. The current pastor, Sarah Wiles, preached a sermon that made me rethink the concept of God's call in all our lives. Presbyterians have a technical understanding of call to ministry as ministers, elders and deacons. "This call is evidenced by the movement of the Holy Spirit in the indi- vidual conscience, the approval of a community of God's people, and the concurring judgment of a council of the Church" (Book of Order, G-2.0103). But earlier, in G-2.0101, a more important concept is expressed: "Christ alone rules, calls, teaches and uses the Church as he wills, exercising his authority by the ministry of women and men for the establishment and extension of God's new creation." That's the "call" to which we are all invited, to be used by God to bring God's will for creation to life in the world. That call is extended to each of us, but to each of us dif- ferently. There is no "one size fits all." The call and our response to it is utterly unique. Think about it. Jesus' call to the fishermen who then became his disciples was pretty strange — "come and follow me and I will make you fishers of people." No grand design. No theological rationale. Just come along with me. And yet, they dropped their nets and followed him. Many of us have changed occupations, but we usually have some idea what we're leaving for, what's coming next. Not these guys. When Jonah was called by God and told to go to Nineveh, he ran the other way. He preferred to sail into a storm (and a fish's belly) than go to hated Nineveh. Given a second chance, he did go to Nineveh, but there is no indication he was very happy about the whole thing. How many of us have said, "That's the last place I'd go!" and then went anyway? When Samuel was called by God, he thought it was his mentor, Eli, calling from a nearby room. It took him at least three tries to understand that the caller was God. Think of those times in your life when it took a lot of per- sistence from someone else to open you to the possibility that a particular call to action was actually God's will. God's call to Abram was to go somewhere, anywhere Embracing God's call We are all invited to serve in unique ways Jerry Van Marter | CHURCH MATTERS Sometimes God's call is obvious. Other times it is well hidden. Sometimes we greet God's call with eagerness. Other times we greet it with dread. Sometimes we're delighted. Other times we're furious. Often we are confused and doubtful if it really is God calling us.

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