Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Call To Be Wild

Reading Jeremiah's call story for Sunday's worship reminds me of the day I sat above the Wentz Library on the first day of 'summer Greek', my very first day in a seminary class. We sat in a circle and took turns breaking the silence to share our call stories. It was fascinating! I heard such a range of experience from seasoned naval veterans to students right out of college. Some seemed to have been following God's call for a while, others had been fighting it quite determinedly. Still through the stories there were similarities. Each of us had encountered God in some way. Many of us had encountered God again and again yet at some point the 'call' became insistent.  Many of us found good reasons to doubt that we were hearing correctly. Surely God needed the capable and well-equipped leaders for Christ's church. We were reminded again that day as we were assured all along the way, "God doesn't call the equipped, God equips the called."

Did we like Jeremiah get a sign that we were on the right path? Only after having taken the first step in faith knowing that we had to follow this call. (Mine was finding out that seminarians received a discount at the local candy store. Chocolate is always an affirmation of call!) I found a quote I love in my reading,
"Vocation exacts a price and not all can pay it. . To follow the vocation does not mean happiness, but once [the call] has been heard, there is no happiness for those who do not follow." (Gilbert Meilaender quoted by Philip Thompson, Interpretation Jan 2008)
I guess that summed up our experience up to that first day of seminary. We were there, in our first class and we were following the call we could not resist.

Now, we are six years into our various callings and all in different places along the journey. We hear and follow the same call even if the voice at times grows faint or the circumstances seem less vital.  Jeremiah continued to hear God's call and his journey was never easy. Michelangelo may have shown it best on the Sistine Chapel wall. (See side bar picture.) A brooding Jeremiah with the two muses of a prophet behind him.  Ron S. Hartsville expresses it like this at Goodpreacher.com

But hovering behind the wizened Jeremiah are the two Muses of every veteran ministry: The beaten-down personna on the left, with downcast eyes and defeated countenance, representing the urge to give up; to succumb to the despair of defeat, and the cynicism born of failure to convince. But the figure on the right seems animated by resolution. She wears a robe and hood as if preparing for a long journey. She symbolizes the hope for the future, and determination to persevere on the pilgrimage of faith, because steadfastness and faithfulness are what God is about, and what a prophet of any era is called to be.
Answering God's call is a step toward faithfulness and the beginning of a journey walking close to God. Our call stories, the moments when we remember, like Jeremiah that our lips were touched, are what keep us going no matter what the 'life of call' brings.

3 comments:

Mompriest said...

Love this reading from Jeremiah and your reflection on it.

Rev Nancy Fitz said...

thanks, I'm enjoying preparing this week's message hope you are too.

RJ said...

These are important words... sorry I haven't had a chance to check in but now I'm back in the groove. Thanks for your insight on Jeremiah and seeking hope.