It is a voice which is heard deep within us, and is real and potent. As with our biblical ancestors, the voice may come in two waves. The first movement is the challenge to go out and serve in God's name, speaking God's Word in Jesus Christ among various peoples and situations. Like Isaiah, we may hear God saying, "Whom shall I send?" (6:8).
The second wave is our response to God's challenge. Figures such as Abraham, Moses, Jacob, Samuel, Isaiah, and Mary all heard God speak and eventually responded: "Here I am." Again, with Isaiah, that response may also include, "send me."
The voice is calling us to love our God and serve our neighbor through the Word whom we know in Jesus Christ. For us, it has led to the vocational call to become servants of word and sacrament and word and service. It is an incarnated call that came through pastors, synodical officers, candidacy officials, friends, parents, perhaps even visions such as Isaiah experienced.
While our initial vocational calls may now seem a distant memory, the hearing of that voice remains one of those common bonds we share as rostered leaders.
"Whom shall I send?"
"Here I am. Send me."
We rostered leaders are encouraged to articulate our call as we seek service to God and neighbor within the framework of the church-on-earth. But we might also ask ourselves, do we in turn encourage all of God's children to articulate and live out their own calls to love God and serve their neighbors through their varied vocations?
This issue of Lutheran Partners
, "The Challenge of Connecting Worship and Our Vocational Callings," explores how we might encourage articulating our vocational calls among God's people, especially through the act of worship within the congregation. Our print and online articles will look at the subject broadly, underscoring some of its theological, historical, and practical aspects.
Craig Satterlee draws on Scripture and theology as he encourages worship planners to find ways to celebrate the vocations of God's people
. Laura Kaslow chooses three congregations from Pennsylvania, Kansas, and North Dakota that are intentionally incorporating the teaching of vocation into worship
. Pastor and playwright John Trump describes how he is connecting faith with laity's daily ministries and vocations
through his use of drama in worship.
Want to refresh your memory of what Martin Luther preached when encouraging each Christian to serve one's neighbor through her or his varied vocational roles and contexts? Read Michael Bennethum's "Upholding Gottesdienst: Preaching Vocation in Luther's Day and Ours
Our theme extends to online exclusive features (www.elca.org/lutheranpartners). ELCA Worship staff Jennifer Phelps Ollikainen escorts us through places in our Evangelical Lutheran Worship resources that celebrate and support Christian vocation
. John Trump, shares a sample of his dramas called "The Potter and Me" online.
Our vocational service to our neighbors in New Orleans was at the core of the just-completed ELCA Youth Gathering where 37,000 youth and adult leaders gathered under the theme of "Jesus, Justice, Jazz" in late July. Rachel Reed looks at the event through the eyes of her pastor
, who has escorted youth from his parish to many youth gatherings over the years and is now retiring from parish life. Her story and photos can be found online.New Call Process Tools Online
The ELCA has launched a new Web site to support all those involved in the call process: rostered leaders from all four of our rosters, congregations, church-related organizations, and synods. It is found at www.elca.org/call
The new forms that were created for the call process now interact with a searchable churchwide database, allowing ministry sites to publish their vacancy and allowing rostered leaders to have their mobility information readily accessible to synod bishops. Visit the site and learn how it functions by reading the online guide found under the menu option "Using this Site."Global Formation Events
The ELCA Global Mission program unit is hosting three "Global Formation Events" this fall which bring together experts and resources on global and domestic ministry under one roof.
Congregations are encouraged to send a team to one of three locations: Katy, Texas, Oct. 1-2; Lincoln, Nebraska, Oct. 30-31; and Olympia, Washington, Nov. 13-14. Each site will include worship, music, exploration of challenging mission ideas, and new practical methods of mission.
For further details, visit www.elca.org/globalevents
.William Decker is editor of
Lutheran Partners and
Lutheran Partners Online, Chicago, Illinois.
This article appeard in the September / October issue of Lutheran Partners (vol. 25, no. 5).