World Day of Prayer for Vocations
What might the future Church of England look like? What will be the “new normal” for the world in which we live when we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic? And where will we find lay and ordained leaders who will help shape the Church for future generations?
Two of the most profound questions that people ask are: ‘who am I?’ and ‘what am I here for?’ People ask these questions at different times in their lives. When Christians talk about ‘vocation’ or ‘calling’ we usually mean God inviting us to make a choice, for a particular job or to a way of life. But it is important to remember that vocation is about the whole of who we are. Vocation Sunday, which is the Fourth Sunday of Easter, 3rd May, and the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, is an opportunity to think and pray about the nature of our calling.
At baptism all Christians are called to be disciples of Jesus Christ. This means following Jesus and serving him in all that we are and all that we do. We believe that it is in this way we become more fully the person God created us to be. Vocation simply means what you are called by God to be and do. The good news is that if you are baptised you already have a vocation because you have already been called. Our primary calling as Christians is to live life in all its fullness and be representatives of Christ in the world. God loves us and wants us to be the person he has called us to be. For some we may identify our calling as a role in the world that allows us to follow Jesus as a disciple and share our God given gifts and abilities to the benefit of others. There is also another calling, sometimes called ‘having a vocation’ which is not for everyone, but may be for you. This particular calling is to serve God and all people through one of the Church’s authorised lay or ordained ministries, for example as a Deacon or a Priest, as a Reader, or as a Church Army officer. For this particular calling you have to allow your sense of vocation to be tested by the Church through its discernment processes.
Many people feel called to serve God through ministry in various different forms, for example, as a churchwarden, musician, in children’s or youth ministry, as part of a pastoral care team, or as part of a prayer or study group, to give only a few examples. God calls all people to follow him, and some to exercise authorized minister in his Church. God calls young people and older ones, men and women, the wealthy and poorer from all walks of life, social classes, ethnic backgrounds and educational abilities. God has a place set aside for us all in his world.
You may feel certain about what God is calling you to, or you may be quite unsure. You may feel confident and excited, or you may be confused and reluctant. Maybe a number of people have been saying to you “have you ever thought of …?” Maybe you have had an experience of God speaking clearly. Or maybe you have a persistent nagging feeling that what you are currently doing ‘is not enough’. Understanding God’s calling can be challenging – you might feel excited, anxious, scared or not sure of what to do next. Prayer, and being open to the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help you discern your calling, whatever it may be, is a good starting point. Pray through what you are thinking and feeling and ask God to guide you. Often, the first step to exploring a sense of calling is for you to speak to someone, either to me, or to a member of our ministry team.
Here in Devon, The South West Ministry Training Course (SWMTC) is one of the best ways of discovering more about the Christian faith locally. Courses are held regularly for those wishing to study various aspects of Christian theology or to pursue a specific vocation and this work continues as best it can even during these difficult and challenging times. Again, I have details of these courses and information can also be found on the SWMTC website www.swmtc.org.uk. Please do speak to me if you are interested to know more about this as well.
Please be assured of my continued love and prayers and stay safe and well.