Did You Hear the One About…? 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 37 – Wednesday in Holy Week
From the Scriptures:
The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice
One of the joys of my life has been (and is) the privilege, of helping and guiding some of my friends to become ministers of the Gospel. I look back over more than 30 years in Holy Orders and remember with fondness faithful people who have said ‘Here I am, send me,’ as they have heard the voice of the Good Shepherd calling them.
I also look back with longing and deep prayer for those friends who, despite the giving of their all to our Beloved, have not (yet) found their place as ministers of the Gospel.
I weep for those who have found that life has intervened and, though the call remains strong, being a vicar is not (for the moment) how they are to answer the Shepherd’s voice.
Like Aaron, I carry their names as jewels on my breast (Exodus 28.15f) and keep them always close to my heart. Their hearts, like mine, have heard the call of the Good Shepherd burn within them and I know the ache which comes when I cannot fully say ‘yes’ to God’s great love.
Discerning God’s will in ministry is a difficult and convoluted path; a path that is hard work in denominations besides the Church of England. It is indeed like playing a game of Snakes and Ladders only much more visceral! The snakes send you down to the bottom of the board, but not off it completely so faithful people are left with dis-ease and a sense of unanswered call. The ladders are supposed to be helpful but climbing is hard work and it is easy to look longingly towards the bottom of the board where faithfulness was measured by the odd Sunday’s duty on the coffee rota.
If the lesson of the Good Shepherd in John 10 teaches us anything it is this, Jesus calls everybody! Vocation is not the sole preserve of the clergy but the possession of the whole flock of Christ. Our Beloved calls all his sheep by name, Archbishops and bishops, Popes and priests, vicars and pastors, and you and I. There is no escaping the playing of the Snakes and Ladders game of becoming servants to the Body of Christ. All are called for good works and God provides for each vocation (Romans 8.28). The question is not ‘do I have a vocation?’ but rather, ‘ what is the vocation I have?’
This is where the arduous ladder-climbing and devastating snake-slipping begins. Whatever happens, and no matter how rejected we may feel by the process and the oft-times mystifying behaviour of those leading the Discernment process, we remain in the game and on the playing board. We may be knocked down but we are never knocked out! (2 Corinthians 8.9 – Phillips).
Never, ever doubt the fact that our Beloved is calling your name. He has done so since before you were born. Learn to listen closely to His voice, learn to follow His way. That is our chief ‘discernment process’ and the only way in which we His sheep can be safely en-folded in His love.
Grant us the help of the Holy Spirit
in all our life and worship,
that we may expect great things from you,
and attempt great things for you,
and being one in you
may show to the world
that you sent Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom with you and the Holy Spirit
be all honour and glory,
world without end.
(Church of South India)
Pray for your church ministers.
Pray for those you know training to be ministers.
Pray for those who have not been accepted for training as ministers.
Pray for those ministers, who for one reason or another, are no longer permitted to minister.
Pray about your own call to ministry.
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017