God speaks to us through the words of Scripture, as we celebrate the sacraments, as we open ourselves to God in prayer or worship, as we engage in the world around us, through the words of friend and stranger and the voice of the church.
Sometimes God’s word is one of comfort or encouragement, forgiveness or hope. Sometimes God’s word challenges us out of our comfort zone and leads us in new directions.
Through the ages, God has called people to particular responsibilities. God called Moses through a burning bush to set God’s people free from slavery. God called Isaiah as he was worshipping in the temple to speak God’s word as a prophet. Jesus called fishermen and tax collectors to join in his mission in the world. Jesus called Paul on the road to Damascus to become apostle to the Gentiles. To all of these people, responding to God’s call took them in new and unexpected directions in life.
God still calls today. Each disciple is called to a particular ministry which builds up the body of Christ and serves God’s people and the whole of creation. Because each of us has distinctive gifts, the particular ministry God calls us to will differ, but all ministries are part of the ministry of Christ.
For some their calling is expressed through their work as parents, teachers, doctors, artists, social workers, farmers, engineers or tradespeople. For others their calling is to be actively involved in their local communities, caring for their neighbours and for the environment, serving on councils or as volunteers in schools or community organisations, or advocating for a more just society.
For others their calling is to be involved in leadership within the church, serving as elders, church councillors, musicians, worship leaders, lay preachers, teachers and mentors. For others their calling is to welcome newcomers, decorate the church with flowers or serve cups of tea or coffee. For others their calling is to become ordained ministers either as deacons or ministers of the Word.
Whoever you are, God calls you to a particular ministry. Do you know what your calling is? Even if you think you know the answer to that question, sometimes God surprises us and calls us in new directions. Our calling may change through time.
If you believe God is calling you to a particular ministry, it is always wise to check this out with others in the Christian community. Because we are fallible humans, sometimes we can get things wrong. We need the wisdom of others to confirm our calling. Sometimes we are blind and deaf, not seeing our gifts or hearing God’s call. In this situation others in the Christian community may more clearly discern God’s calling than we do. When someone taps you on the shoulder and says “Have you considered that God may be calling you to …?” then you need to consider this prayerfully.
The Uniting Church has a process for enabling members to discern God’s call. It is called a Period of Discernment and to find out more contact Rev Craig Collas from the Candidates for Ministries Commission on 9321 9964 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you believe God may be calling you to an ordained ministry, then come to the Explore Ministry Evening to be held at 7.30pm on Wednesday 9 December, at Bicton Uniting Church.
And don’t miss Summer Spirit on Saturday 27 February 2016 at All Saints Floreat Uniting Church. The focus of this event will be on how to discover the gifts God has given you and others and how to enable each other to use our gifts in ministry. Find out more at http://unitingchurchwa.org.au/services/experiencing-god/summer-spirit/.
Rev Bev Fabb, chair of the Commission for Education for Discipleship and Leadership (CEDAL)