Fulfilling our Vocation

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A couple weeks ago we observed Labor Day, a time to reflect on our vocation. Typically, the meaning of that word is synonymous with employment, career, or occupation. Yet Martin Luther had a much more expansive view of vocation. Our primary vocation as Christians is to love and serve our neighbor and the world that God so loves. We do that through our work in the workplace by using the gifts God has given us to the best of our ability, and by treating our co-workers with respect and dignity. But we also fulfill our vocation at home and in the community. My vocation is as a pastor. Yet I am also called to be a servant of the gospel as a wife, mother, friend, neighbor, and citizen. It is that latter vocation that we especially need to focus on right now. Very soon we will be choosing leaders to represent us and govern on our behalf for the good of the whole. Some have said this is the most important election ever in our nation’s history (or has that been said before every election?). How does our faith guide our decision-making process about who to vote for?

Back in 1988, in his book Whistling in the Dark, writer and Presbyterian minister Frederick Buechner wrote these words:

“Suppose a candidate were to stand up before the reporters and the TV cameras and the usual bank of microphones and say something like this:
‘The responsibilities of this office are so staggering that anybody who doesn’t approach them with knees knocking is either a fool or a lunatic. The literal survival of civilization may depend on the decisions that either I or one of the other candidates make during the next four years. The general welfare and peace of mind of millions of people will certainly depend on them. I am only a human being. If I have my strengths, I also have my weaknesses. I can’t promise that I’ll always do the right thing for this country. I can only promise that it will always be this country rather than my own political fortunes that I’ll try to do the right thing for. I believe in this country at its best, but I also believe that we have made many tragic mistakes....I believe that the survival and well-being of the human race as a whole is more important than the partisan interest of any group, including both theirs and our own.’”

Frederick Buechner, "Whistling in the Dark" Tweet

Listening closely to what each candidate says is a first step. It is also important for us to listen to Scripture, theologians, church historians and others within the church. To that end, our ELCA has put out a new social message called “Government and Civil Engagement in the United States: Discipleship in a Democracy,” encouraging its members to read, study and discuss before the election. You may find it here.

The message affirms that government is a gift from God “because it’s intended to do what churches, families, individuals and businesses cannot do on their own: protect and coordinate the well-being of individuals, communities and creation.”

Using the words from our liturgy, it is not only our duty but our delight to participate in electing leaders to serve in government. In so doing, we take seriously our vocation as citizens, seeking to love and serve our neighbor and the world.

Let us pray...

Lord God, you call your people to honor those in authority. Help us elect trustworthy leaders, participate in wise decisions for our common life, and serve our neighbors in local communities. Bless the leaders of our land, that we may be at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations of the earth; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, Amen. (Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 77)

Gretchen Bingea

Gretchen Bingea

ELCA Pastor
Immanuel Lutheran, Boise, ID

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Penelope J Smith

    I happily posted the Buechner quote to my Facebook page!

  2. Meggan

    Love This!

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