Calling The Congregation
Calling The Congregation. God is hungry and waiting to be fed. This hunger is reflected each day, children starving stood in long soup kitchen lines and in the panicked voices of desperate fathers searching for a way to put food on the table for their families. Each day their numbers grow as God waits to be fed, the text of Matthew 25 resounding in repetition. When God's creatures are hungry, God is hungry. Through the living witness of my work I have come to believe that our God is one who laments with us and feels the depths of our pain.
“For I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing…Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” –Matthew 25:35-40, NIV
What Is God’s Dream?
If people were taught to ask “What am I to do with my life—my whole life—in light of my faith?” or “What is my part in God’s dream?” the question of whether people have been called to the congregation might become more clear.
“The Calling of the Congregation.” although we talk about the congregation as a vocation, it is at least as accurate to talk about a vocation choosing us, of a call being given and of us hearing or not hearing, listening or not listening, responding or not responding. We think of our work—your work—as creating space for the hearing and practices of listening and pathways to responding. This is necessary work because it is not easy to hear and listen, much less respond. He cautioned us that the call is hard to hear:
The danger is that there are so many voices, and all in their ways sound so promising. The danger is that you will not listen to the voices that speak to you through the seagull mounting the gray wind, say, or the vision in the temple, that you do not listen to the voice inside you or to the voice that speaks from outside but specifically to you out of the specific events of your life, but that instead you listen to the great blaring, boring, banal voice of our mass culture, which threatens to deafen us all by blasting forth that the only thing that really matters about your work is how much it will get you in the way of salary and status.
How much harder is it to listen now? How much harder is it to hear what Howard Thurman calls the “sound of the genuine.” In a speech by that name, Thurman says, "There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls."
Our world desperately needs people who don’t spend their lives on the ends of strings somebody else pulls. We live at a hinge point in history. Technology challenges what it means to be human, earth’s survival is imperiled, and the definition and structure is constantly changing. You don’t need convincing that at this hinge point in history the world cries out for good, creative faithful and smart leaders to respond to its needs and the people in our care are at risk of not hearing, not listening and not responding.
Therefore, we come to this moment in time, to meet this call, rejoicing in the abundance of resources we have and the blessedness of our own limitations. We don’t have time to waste. Our children need us. Our society depend on us. So let us share in this work together of leading new generations, and those not yet born, to respond to the call and to change the world.