Vocation – what does it mean today?

On Sunday 15 July, I heard it in the readings: ‘He sent them out in pairs’, to interface with people just as they were. They didn’t have any books or aids, material helps; in fact he sent them without a spare tunic, without food or supplies, and he sent them to whoever needed them and would welcome them into their home. And who welcomed them? The sick and the ‘outcastes’.

The disciples were people who had nothing to offer but the good news: ‘nothing can stand between us and the love of God’ and nobody is exempt from being loved and healed, included and integrated.

Over the last years I have heard a real change in the starting point of people talking of vocation.

We start with the fact that all the baptised have a call, a vocation. Most of us have no training, no words to give, no extra tunics, and no trappings. But we have all that is required. We are sent out, most of us with our beloved, to heal and to welcome, to feed and to love, to forgive and to serve.

This the first and central call of Vocations Sunday: ‘there is nothing that can stand between us and any person we meet in our home, our community our workplace, because what we bring is the love of God’.

But at the same time, we need those who can support us in building the community, in preaching the Gospel. It was Christ who sent the disciples out in pairs, who welcomed them back, and prayed with them. And in time it was the deacons who supported the community, by aiding in the distribution of food to those in need, and in prayerful support of the bishop.

In the Diocese of Palmerston North, we are blessed with wonderful men who will support Bishop Charles in the ministry of priest, and we are supported by two couples, Danny and Maru, and Ave and Tevita, who are sent out in pairs, to support ngā iwi Māori, and the Pasifika community in Hawke’s Bay, and the whole church, as deacons. But note, they are there as couples and the basic witness is one, as Bishop Charles said at Tevita’s recent ordination, of ‘being a presence of humility and service.’ The gift of their vocation is nothing more than offering the love of God which draws us into community, and enables us to forgive, to welcome and make a home for those who are displaced, outcaste and alone.

Let us all take up the call, to be sent out in pairs, and not worry we don’t have the full bag of tricks – we have all that matters, the love of God made visible in Jesus Christ.

Mark Richards

Mark requests your prayers on his behalf to Venerable Suzanne Aubert for a personal cause at this time.

Published in WelCom August 2018

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