We Are About Relationships
For the month of July, there are three special Sunday School classes for adults at Christ UMC. Robbin Cross and I organized one of the classes: Stepping Out in Faith: From Call to Action. While I’ve been in this class, I have also heard wonderful things about the two other classes. Jimmy Byrd is teaching about patriotism and religion in the first century of our nation. Ben Papa is leading a class about some of the ancient mystical practices of our faith and how we can incorporate them into our daily living. Our class is centered on hearing God’s calling through mission and service. What a diverse group of classes appealing to our heads, our hearts, and our hands!
In the Stepping Out in Faith class, we have invited guest speakers to come and tell us about their journeys of discernment and answering God’s calling upon their lives through mission and ministry. It has been a fascinating, rewarding, encouraging and challenging experience thus far. On July 1, Ingrid McIntyre from Open Table and our own Jerry Regier of the PRIDE Fund spoke to us. We heard from Rev. Paul Slenz of 61st Avenue UMC on July 8 and from some folks at Project Transformation Tennessee on July 15. We are preparing to hear from Tim Gregath and others at Building Lives on July 22 and Gene Cotton with the Nicaragua Project on July 29. I hope you’ll plan to join us downstairs in Room 113.
As a United Methodist, I was already convinced that God calls all of us through our baptism to be in ministry. As a pastor, I have felt and responded to God’s calling for my vocation to be full-time, set-apart ministry with the church. I have experienced God’s calling in specific ways in my own life. Unfortunately, though, in many respects, I assumed that God’s calling works the same way in other people’s lives as it does in mine. This class has helped to reopen my eyes to the beautiful diversity of the workings of the divine in the lives of people.
As Ingrid shared her story of growing discontent in a cushy job and then finding renewed purpose and energy in helping unhoused folks displaced by the 2010 flood, I realized that God sometimes uses our spiritual intuition and feelings of restlessness and peace to call us. As Jerry talked about a divinely appointed meeting that changed the course of the PRIDE Fund, I realized that God sometimes uses specific events or actions to call us. As Paul shared about his journey into peacemaking work and ministry with the poor, I realized that God sometimes uses our convictions and moral compasses to call us. As I reflected back on my own life, I realized that God sometimes uses the means of grace (such as prayer, study and worship) to call us. And as I thought about the lives of countless others, I realized that God uses just about anything – both the expected and the unexpected – to call us!
I invite you to consider how God is calling in your own life. Listen to the longings of your heart, take notice of places where God’s work is manifest, pay attention to your convictions, use the means of grace, and look for what God is doing all around you. Please be in conversation with the church staff and other trusted friends – God’s calling is to be worked out and understood in community! And God is indeed calling. May we have ears to hear and courage to respond.