Our first reading – “love one another” – reiterates Jesus’ central teaching. Love really is all you need.
“Love one another”.
That is very easy to say and very difficult to do.
So, how do we love one another?
Two weeks ago, a few of us were at Greenbelt. We heard and saw and experienced a huge range of exciting, challenging, interesting stuff. Some of it might even be life-changing. I want to share with you today something I picked up.
The organisation Inclusive Church was asking everyone to think about vocation. They had some question cards to get people thinking, which we’ll explore together this morning.
Those of you who study Latin might know that the word vocation comes from “vocare” – to call. Our vocation is what God calls us to.
Vocation is an often misunderstood term. In church, we too often talk about “vocation” only in terms of priesthood and other recognised, authorised, official ministries.
At school we might hear “vocation” being used to refer to particular jobs, like being a teacher or a doctor. It’s part of the “what do you want to be when you grow up?” conversation.
All of this is to misunderstand the nature of vocation, what it is to be called by God.
We all have a vocation. We are all called by God. From the youngest to the oldest, from the most confident to the least. God is calling you.
Some vocations are the work of a lifetime. Some of those are jobs – being a vicar, or a teacher, or a carer, or a gardener.
Other vocations are less about what we do than who we are and how we live. Some people have a lifelong calling to be a good listener, or to encourage others, or to organise things. Those are all vocations which I know people in this church have, and often we are not as good as we should be at recognising and valuing the way all these and many other vocations contribute to our life together.
Not all vocations last a lifetime. There are some things God calls us to for a particular time, or at a particular stage of life. A particular task or way of living for that time. Perhaps some of you will be taking on more responsibilities at school or work, or discovering something you didn’t know you could do. That could be part of your vocation for now.
This time of year, as we start the new school year, is a great time to think about our vocation. What is it that God is calling you to, now?
The questions that Inclusive Church asked people at Greenbelt were:
What gives you life?
Where would you like to go?
What do you need to let go of?
Where do you see God in the world?
What are you passionate about?
The cards with these questions will be available for you to discuss over coffee after church. But for now I’d like us to concentrate on that last question.
[Discuss with neighbour – feedback.]
Vocation isn’t something you do when you grow up, or something you might do at some point in the future, or something that “isn’t for people like us”. Vocation is what God is calling you to, right here, right now.
God calls all sorts of people, to all sorts of things, and often the most unlikely people to the most unlikely things. So keep an open mind about what God might be calling you, and others, to.
God calls us all, in all sorts of ways, to love one another. The vocations we have are – as the theme of this year’s Greenbelt says – “for the common good”.
You are called. Called by God. Called for the common good. Called to love one another.
But a call is nothing without a response. I wonder how you will respond to God’s call? Over to you!