Mar 09 2017

Vocation and Vitality

"The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet." --Frederick Buechner

Carol Howard Merritt has asked the leaders of our church to ponder this statement about God’s call in our lives. It is part of our “homework” before our next conference with Carol, and it is fertile territory for reflection and inspiration. “Where is that intersection for St. Andrew’s Church?”, Carol also asks. That is a question that I would like all of our members to soulfully consider.

Carol, of course, is the consultant from The Center for Progressive Renewal that our congregation is working with during 2017. She traveled to Perkasie for a site visit with the Consistory and team leaders in December, and we are videoconferencing with her once a month around her site report and proposed action plan for the coming year.

I chuckled in delight when Carol mentioned Buechner, as I must quote him at least half a dozen times a year in my sermons! This particular reference comes from an essay entitled, “Vocation”. Vocation, from the Latin term vocare, is the work we are called to by God. Buechner writes stirringly: “The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you most need to do and (b) that the world most needs to have done.” [1] In other words, our work for God, even while challenging, is filled with opportunities for joy!

Friends, take some Lenten reflection time to discern where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger might meet. God will meet you there! And think about our beloved church community: What is the work we most need to do? What has God gifted us for? And what is the work the world most needs to have done? Let me suggest that the answers to those questions are already emerging among us.

Carol’s action plan has us discovering more about the people who live in the neighborhoods and communities near our church, and identifying the needs our church is equipped by God to serve. In the coming months we will be:

  • learning about creative and responsive models of ministry that similar congregations have engaged
  • developing new ways to communicate effectively with the people around us, sharing the good news of what God’s love is doing here and what it can mean in their lives;
  • focusing on the needs and spirituality of younger generations;
  • engaging our already essential ministries of hospitality and holistic stewardship with great intention;
  • exploring the richness of worship forms and what shape they might take at St. Andrew’s;
  • engaging people and resources for ever-creative worship;
  • plotting a strategy for ongoing spiritual growth and vitality.

The possibilities are quite exciting, and there is room for the active participation of everyone.

Copies of Carol’s site report are available in Fellowship Hall. I am reminded that when Carol first met with the leaders in December, she took a remarkable amount of time with each person, asking each one of us how we came to St. Andrew’s and why we belong here. The vitality and the sense of vocation that each of us holds are enormous blessings to the ministry of Jesus Christ and the promise of new life right where we live.


[1] Buechner, Frederick. (1993). Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC. Harper One: New York. pp. 118-119.

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