Magazine article The Christian Century

Getting a Life

Magazine article The Christian Century

Getting a Life

Article excerpt

DEAR ELLEN: I've been meaning to say just a word about the broadest of topics--your vocation in life. Maybe I should just say: about how to "get a life." What started me thinking about this was an incident at church last week. They had a little dispute about who should read the scripture lessons at Sunday services. It seems that some people want a chance to do it more often, while others are tired of hearing them read poorly. Pastor Haden, a true child of his time in matters liturgical, generally sides with the first group. Says he is just a minister to equip ministers. (I sometimes think the man was born uttering platitudes.)

Although I don't make an issue of it, I myself never read the lessons. It's a form of silent witness--maybe even protest. We have gradually begun to think of our "ministry" as doing things at church and, especially, in a church service. This, in fact, is what the liturgical renewal of the past few decades has largely amounted to. It is a revival of exactly what the Reformers turned away from in the 16th century--namely, the notion that only certain vocations are religious.

For my part, I think of my vocation as the tasks I take up daily--making and caring for home and family, teaching, being a (slightly apathetic but, I hope, dutiful) citizen. The difficulties and failures of that calling drive me back to the church's worship. The joys and beauties of the calling send me back to praise God. But the idea that the central expression of my faith might be reading the lessons...well, no thanks.

Once we start to think like that, we all have essentially the same vocation. And then, I guess, we may argue about who gets to do it this Sunday. How much better if we keep in mind that the one body has many members, with different gifts and callings.

I think of the fairy tale you used to like about the six servants. Remember how it went? The prince wanted to marry the beautiful princess, but her wicked mother would give her hand in marriage only to a suitor who could perform a series of difficult tasks. All the suitors had failed until a prince came along with his six unusual servants. The fat man who ate 300 oxen and drank 300 casks of wine overnight. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.