God said to Abram,
         “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house
         to the land that I will show you.”
                —Genesis 12.1

This Sunday I will retire as a Methodist Minister, after 40 years in six churches and one college campus in four states. That’s something like 5000 worship services. Yeah, it’s time.

People ask when I got my call into ministry and my answer is: around 1835. I’m the sixth generation of Methodist Ministers (and one gunsmith) in my family going all the way back to Enos Holmes, who was ordained about then. It’s been 185 years. It really is time.

But, joking aside, when did I receive my calling to ministry? Well, joking aside, it began in 1835. Or maybe with Rev. Obadiah Holmes, Eons’ great-great-great-great grandfather, born in 1606. Or in 1514, with the birth of his great-grandfather George Holmes… or father back. Because each of us belongs to a great cloud of witnesses, a long, magnificent line of people bearing love from one generation to another. We are each one little part of an epic story that began before us and will continue after us. It’s the story of God’s love and justice, the story God is telling using each of us as the words and sentences of the story.

Your calling is your place in the story. It might be to carry on a family tradition—or to change it. I guess that’s how the gunsmith got in there. Your calling is the way God uses your story to tell a story that’s not about you. Your calling is greater than your job. My calling will continue after I retire from parish leadership. I’ll be a different part of the same story. So maybe the real answer is that my calling is just now beginning. I’m discovering who I really am aside from what job I have.

Your real calling—your vocation—is who you are, not what you do. It changes with time, but it’s eternal. “God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before God in love” (Eph. 1.4). Listen for your calling, for the voice of God inviting you to play a part in God’s story. It may mean following a well-trodden path, or breaking a tradition of 185 years. Wherever it takes you, listen and follow. God will go ahead of you.

Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light

June 10, 2020

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