September 2019

What Is Your Calling?

13th Sunday after Pentecost, September 08, 2019
Luke 14:25-33
– The Reverend Dr. Arnold Isidore Thomas


I’ve always found it fascinating that the reference to the spirit or breath of God in Hebrew js feminine While God is often referred to in the masculine, it might be more accurate to reference God in androgynous terms. “Ruah,” for instance, is the inseparable spirit of God without which creation could not have occurred. She is Wisdom personified, or might I say deified, in the Book of Proverbs who partners with God in the formation of all life and refers to all who follow her as “children.” (8:32)

Truly, if we are to reference God in trinitarian terms, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit would be equivalent to a divine Mother, from whom the Christ, according to scripture, was conceived (Matthew 1:20). The Trinity, then, becomes our Holy Family of Father, Mother and Child. This may be still another way of distinguishing Protestants from Catholics, who consider the Holy Family to be Jesus, Mary and Joseph, which, unfortunately, are also common reference by which to swear.

But please note that I used the adjective “our” in reference to the Holy Family, because the Holy Mother Spirit is rather prolific in her progeny, conceiving not only Christ, but anyone else who is reborn by her spirit. The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, said “you are no longer strangers and aliens; but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” (2:19) In the same letter, he further said that in the unity of the Spirit (Mother), “there is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in all.” (4:6)

So, this trinitarian imagery is one in which the maternal Holy Spirit is the mediating force that unites not only Creator and Christ, but extends the invitation for all to be reborn and part of the holy family and household of God. That invitation is your calling.

By calling, I mean two things. Calling first means embracing an identity that affirms you individually and uniquely as a cherished child of God. And secondly, calling means discerning those qualities and gifts that enable you to feel fully alive and beneficial both to those you love and the world in which you live.

The refrain of the James Taylor song, “Something in the Way She Moves,” conveys this feeling:

And I feel fine anytime she’s around me now.
She’s around me now almost all the time.
And if I’m well you can tell she’s been with me now.
She’s been with me now almost all the time, and I feel fine.
*

Now while Taylor was possibly referring to Carly Simon or Carole King, a comparable feeling is felt when you’re inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit.

One’s calling in the world of corporate materialism is often translated to mean profession or vocation, which has spiritual implications as well. However, in the spiritual sense, it need not be tied to a paycheck, but that which assumes a spiritual value that transcends monetary rewards. So, how is the Spirit calling you to be a child of God and follower of Christ?

Certainly the religious movement that Jesus founded was a radical departure from the religious norms of his day and required of his followers an unwavering devotion to the cause he pursued; a devotion that often divided families and asked of each individual: ”What is the cost you’re willing to sacrifice to live a life that affirms and fulfills you?”

In college, a friend and I were involved in speaking engagements that placed us before successful and affluent alumni. During a break in one of these programs we rushed to the restroom to relieve ourselves, and as we were washing up, one such alumnus exited a stall and inquired of our plans after college. I informed him of my interest in theological education while my friend shared his plans of pursuing a career in law. He then proceeded to belittle our pursuits while grandstanding about a business venture he recently completed that awarded him a lot of money, after which he pulled out a hundred-dollar bill and said, “Gentlemen, this is the future,” and left.

My friend and I stood there, not quite knowing what to say. But then he said something quite fitting. He said, “It seems that what I just flushed down the toilet crawled back up and walked out the door.”

A life consumed by the acquisition of wealth with little consideration of how it might be used to empower the needy is not a calling, but a curse, to which Jesus instructs, “What does it profit to gain the whole world and lose your soul?” (Mark 8:36)

It is the calling of the church to help you find your soul and discover your calling as a child of God, through the Spirit and Breath of God, “Ruah,” who enables you to feel fully alive in her presence.

And I feel fine anytime she’s around me now.
She’s around me now almost all the time.
And if I well you can tell she’s been with me now.
She’s been with me now almost all the time, and I feel fine.
*

Amen.


*Song excerpt: “Something in the Way She Moves,” by James Taylor.