Min far brukade alltid stiga upp kl. 6 söndags morgon och skriva predikan. Inbiten kvällsmänniska som jag är så försöker jag undvika det, men vissa veckor har inte tillräckligt många timmar, som denna. Klockan stod på kl 6.30 i morse. Jag kallar det ‘Att göra en far’. Te, dator, och en timme. Och intensiva böner till helig And.
Här är resultatet, på söndagen som är Herdens och Vocation Sunday. Texten är herden och fårfållan, Johannes 10: 1-10, och texten finner du här.
Easter 4 2017 – Vocation Sunday
There was much excitement last Thursday, I voted. It’s the third time I vote here in England, and it’s been a privilege. In one sense, we live in advantageous times, we have an established democracy: with the security and freedoms that come with the system. But on the other, we live in dangerous times, because we’re a tired democracy, one where we many times feel our vote doesn’t count. And that, my friends, is how we, the voters, deconstruct democracy.
For it is a marvellous thing, isn’t it, that every citizen of majority, can have a say in the governance of their country? Regardless of social status, income, gender, race, we have this one right. What we often forget is that with our right, also comes duty: to exercise our right – even when we don’t think it will affect the outcome – because it is also the time we show that democracy is our preferred way of governance. But also, equally important, is to identify individuals in our society, with the right qualities for office, and encourage them to seek office
To encourage people around us, or to take on the task ourselves, is a duty we very often let slip. Because it is much easier to complain, isn’t it, than try to change? Even when all odds are against us.
Jesus wasn’t much for counting odds. Or he would never have gone up to Jerusalem, and the cross. He wasn’t seeking power for power’s sake, but looked for a way to ensure freedom and security for his people. His sheep.
There are some similarities with living in a democracy and to be a Christian. It is something we do together. Much like we build a democracy, we keep working on being church. When Jesus calls us, it is as individuals, but he calls us to be church. The flock that recognises the good shepherd. Being Christian is being church, where we worship together, support each other, and follow Christ.
Jesus did not call us to be passive, but active followers. In a democracy that means voting. In a church, it means to use our gifts for the community. And the marvellous thing is that everyone has a meaningful gift to share. In a democracy, every citizen of majority can vote. In church, every single person adds something of importance to the community. Regardless of age, of gender, of race, or background, of mental capabilities, or achievements, everyone has something to give.
And God recognises that. God, the good shepherd, knows your name and your worth. The fancy schmancy name for it is ‘vocation’. God calls you to himself. God calls you by name, so that you may get to know who you are with God. God calls you, so that you may identify the gifts within you, and use those gifts for the good of society. That’s vocation.
And today is vocations Sunday. When we think about our calling, and our vocation.
Now, ‘calling’, is simple, it is much like being born into a democracy and getting those rights and responsibilities bestowed on all citizens. We are baptised, and get the right and responsibilities that come with being a citizen of God’s kingdom. This parable with the shepherd and the gate has sometimes been used to shut people out. But the gate is much like our church doors. We know that everyone should be welcome, and that we make everyone feel welcome. The purpose of the gate, much as the church door, is that we have that safe place where we don’t have to question our calling. Here we are church, here we keep building on God’s kingdom, here we can recharge before going out in the world again.
When the world says that you’re insignificant, that’s it’s nothing worth, that working for good is hopeless, then God calls your name, shows you your gifts, and gives you a mission. That is what church should be, a place where we keep the ravenous wolves of hopelessness and despair at bay. Where we instead follow the shepherd, who gave his life to save us.
But what of the vocation? Isn’t that just, you know, for special tasks? For special jobs, like taking holy orders. Now as special as Deiniol and I like to think ourselves, vocations are not just about becoming clergy. Vocations is about everything that you can give to this church and the community.
I once resisted my vocation, because I was convinced that God only had unpleasantness in mind when he calls us. Like working with lepers in a remote part of the world. (And there’s no wearing high heels in the jungle.) That was not my idea of a good life. I think many of us have the same idea, that God only asks for sacrifices. Needless to say, I had a warped idea of God’s plan, for God always works with our strengths.
If you look around you will see so many people who give of their gifts and skills to this church. That’s vocation, whether it is cleaning or grass cutting, reading the lessons or washing up dirty mugs. Small but necessary tasks. Then there are the ones that are harder to identify, but are equally important. There are those among you who are wise. Those who are good at comforting. Those who are caregivers, healers, work-bees, encouragers, and visionaries. And most important of all, you pray, sometimes haltingly, sometimes wholeheartedly, but it is the greatest vocation. Praying is something we can always do, especially perhaps, when the body is frail, but we have time.
Much as we have a duty in a democracy to identify and support good leaders, we have a duty here in church as well, to help recognise and support each other’s vocations. The shepherd doesn’t just lead us to the gate to safety, he leads us out, into the world. So, when you’re leaving this church, don’t think you’re leaving the church behind. You’re following the shepherd, you’re on a mission, you have a vocation, to build God’s kingdom here on earth.