One Sunday we heard the story of the four fishermen, two sets of brothers, being called to follow Jesus. They went willingly and immediately. We considered how we are called in our personal lives.
That wasn’t the end of the story, was it? The next big question is, “What are we called to?” What is it that is jolting us out of our daily routines into this new reality of the incarnation of Christ?
In the case of the fisherman (the first disciples), they were called to help Jesus very practically with his healing ministry. They ran off to get people and they were messengers for Jesus. They obtained food for everyone and they shared the good news. They were even called to continue fishing to some degree, as we remember that some of the conversations with Jesus were out in the boat.
What are we called to? Luke’s gospel story of the infant Jesus’ being presented at the Jerusalem Temple by his parents, sort of lays out an answer for us.
First, each person in the gospel had a particular calling to love. Joseph and Mary were loving dutiful parents, following all the religious laws, presenting their son to the temple within the time frames that were required of them. They brought their baby for blessing and consecration while Mother Mary came for the rites of purification. What a tapestry of love!
Simeon, the Spirit-led priest, represented a lifetime of service. Now he offered his love and blessing for this little child, holding him in his arms. He somehow knew that this child would bring redemption to humanity, albeit not without suffering. He recognized that all of the desires of his life had been fulfilled. He could now die in peace, a servant dismissed by God into the blessed night.
Anna, too, a steadfast prayerful widow, offered prophetic love. She simply gushed with prophetic praise and witness for God. She told everyone. She, too, somehow knew that this little one was the redeemer of the world.
What each of these adults offered was themselves. And they offered their love, a love great and faithful, full of trust. Yes, that’s the answer. They were each called to love, and so are we.
I remember when I first went back to church on a Sunday after having had my son. He was only four days old, yet somehow I felt a great need to go to church and pray. It wasn’t that I wanted to show him off. I actually felt very humbled and sat far in the back of the church.
It was as if God had personally invited me to be there. I really needed to pray and give thanks in that worship setting. One of the elders was surprised to see me and said, “What are you doing here?!” Then the words just fell out of my mouth. “I’m here because I’m so grateful; I’m here to give thanks.” When I think about it, I wasn’t going to the temple to present the baby, I was going to church to present myself.
In our daily lives each one of us is called to present ourselves to God. That’s the giving of ourselves in all our loveliness and all of our brokenness. Honestly presenting ourselves to God (perhaps in prayer or ministry) reminds us of our need to love and be loved, to be forgiven and whatever else is in the fabric of our heart and soul at any given moment.
We present ourselves to God, and we do that out of great love. Giving our whole selves to God means offering our love. As unconditionally as God loves us, we love God. Let’s not take any of this for granted. Let’s do as God calls us to do: to love, to love God and to love humanity as God does. Within the depth of your love, don’t forget to do these things: praise God, tell others of your love, pray and give thanks.
Rev. Sally Maxwell,
Priest in Charge
St. James’ Episcopal