Crossways is a monthly newsletter for St Paul’s Church Spennymoor and Whitworth Church. Every couple of months, I’ll be writing the front-page article. Here’s my first, from the August edition…
Would you say you are called by God? Has God given you a vocation?
A few weeks ago I was ordained in Durham Cathedral. When someone becomes a member of the clergy, language of ‘calling’ and ‘vocation’ is never far away. People might speak about the moment when they heard God ‘calling’ them. Or they might talk about exploring their ‘vocation’. But it’s not just the clergy who are called by God.
In the Bible, all Christians are ‘called’. When Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in Rome, he said they were all ‘called’. They were ‘called to belong to Jesus Christ’, and they were ‘called’ by God ‘to be his holy people’. So, if you are a Christian, then God has called you!
The fact that we are all called by God makes the church very ‘democratic’. Each one of us is a sinner saved by God’s grace. So there are no ‘super Christians’. We are all in the same boat!
But this doesn’t mean we are all the same. Just as one body has many parts, so does the church. Each one of us, without exception, has been given particular gifts. Our calling is to use our gifts within the church, so that together we can use our gifts to serve God in the world.
In baptism we are reminded that God has called each one of us. In the baptism service, we turn away from sin and we turn to Christ, because ‘God calls us out of darkness into his marvellous light’. The sign of the cross is a reminder that ‘Christ claims you for his own’. And the water of baptism marks us out as belonging to Christ.
The ordination service a few weeks ago started at the back of the cathedral, at the font, the place of baptism. This was a reminder that our most important calling is ‘to belong to Jesus Christ’. This calling takes a different shape for different people at different times. My calling to be a Christian has meant lots of different things over the years. It has meant me doing different things within the church, within my family, and within the world. And now my calling to be a Christian is taking a new shape: that of serving within the church as an ordained minister.
We are all called by God. And we need to help each other to live out our one ‘calling’ to be Christians within our various ‘callings’: in the church, in our families, and in the world.