February 10, 2019
Listen here (click).
Imagine you were to head up an extremely important mission that has the potential to change the world and improve the lives of everyone on the planet. And imagine that you had the resources to attract the best talent from around the globe to join your team to fulfill this mission. Would you choose:
Today’s readings show us once again how God’s ways are not our ways. And they also show us that in our call to align our work in the world with God’s work in the world, we need a radical shift in the way we think and act.
Today’s readings are all about call.
God’s call for Isaiah, who became one of Israel’s greatest prophets. For 42 years, Isaiah spoke to the king and to the people of such things as pounding swords into plowshares, of a prince of peace, of a shoot from the stump of Jesse to inspire us all.
God’s call for Paul, a conversion that changed him from persecutor to apostle. An encounter that inspired him to preach the good news of Jesus throughout Asia minor, Greece, and Rome.
God’s call for Peter, along with James and John, to become fishers of people.
And therefore, God’s call for each one of us.
A call is a hinge moment that swings open a new direction and purpose in life. With that image in mind, our readings lend themselves nicely to a reflection through our overall parish theme of Stop – Look – Listen.
Stop. An event occurs that stuns; stops us in our tracks.
While in temple, Isaiah was caught up short by a vision of the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne.
While traveling to Damascus, Paul was literally knocked off his horse.
And while cleaning their nets after a long night of fishing that yielded no catch, Peter, James, and John suddenly found themselves with literally a boatload of fish! They were stunned!
What has stopped you in your tracks . . . recently, or long ago . . . that, as you look back on that encounter, and see it as a hinge moment?
Look. From the event we look at what’s really going on. When we see what’s happening on the outside, the event itself, we are drawn to face honestly what’s on the inside.
The three characters in our readings today—Isaiah, Paul, and Peter—when they look on the inside, they discover it’s not pretty.
Inexplicably, for the mission to transform the entire world, God calls those who have failed, who have fallen short, who have made one mistake after another. But another way to say that is: through grace, healing, reconciliation, and redemption, God reveals God’s self to us in our shortcomings and mistakes and calls us forth to do outstanding things for the sake of the world.
Listen. Now I have a job for you says the Lord. Each of our three characters is called to hear God’s voice.
Jesus said to Peter, along with James and John, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
Recognizing God’s grace, Paul toiled harder than all the other apostles, and concluded quite simply, “I am what I am . . . we preach, and you believe.”
And most poetically, Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord asking,
"Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?"
"Here I am . . . send me!"
As you know, here at St. Charles we are deliberately seeking to create a culture of calling in our community. The theme of our GIFT Sunday sessions this year is “Responding to God’s Call.” Last month focused on our call to care for God’s creation, as we celebrated our solar energy project on the roof of the school.
Our topic for GIFT Sunday in two weeks is “Called to Be in Tune with God.” It’s based on an intriguing notion by Rob Bell that goes something like this: If God is like a song playing all around us all the time, the song is playing everywhere, it’s written on our hearts, and everybody is playing the song, then the question isn’t whether or not you’re playing a song, the question is, “Are you in tune?”
A couple of weeks ago, I have had privilege of participating in “Vocation Day” at St. Rose School. I visited most classrooms and we talked about God’s call in our lives. Had a fascinating exchange with the Sixth Graders on the question of how do we know if it’s God’s call or not. How do we know what God wants us to do? We concluded first, that God will likely call us in lots of different directions, and throughout our lives, give us many different calls. It’s not one and done.
So then, amidst all the “calls” bombarding us all the time, we came up with these four simple criteria to help us decide if it’s from God. It’s probably God’s call if:
If any one of these is missing, it’s probably not God’s call.