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Fall/Winter 2014


From The Episcopal Diocese of West Texas

A Serious Call to Christian Vocation

Q. Who are the ministers of the Church? A. The ministers of the Church are lay persons, bishops, priests, and deacons. Q. What is the ministry of the laity? A. The ministry of lay persons is to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world . . . from The Catechism, The Book of Common Prayer, page 855.

In this issue:

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Fall/Winter 2014

A Serious Call to Christian Vocation 5 8

Becoming Vocation The Rev. Mike Marsh

All Called Dan Morehead, M. D.

12 Amazing Grace! Discerning Vocation in a Christian Community The Rev. Dr. John G. Lewis 15

Seasons of Vocation

The Rev. Carol Morehead


Seasonal Work


Diane Thrush

With All Your Heart Stephen Hudson


"Yes" to Love's Obligations The Rev. Dr. Jane Patterson

In Every Issue

3 From the Editor 25 Book List 27 The Last Word Published by Department of Communications Episcopal Diocese of West Texas P. O. Box 6885 San Antonio, Texas 78209 www.dwtx.org

Editor Marjorie George, marjorie.george@dwtx.org Communications Officer Laura Shaver, laura.shaver@dwtx.org

Offices are at The Bishop Jones Center 111 Torcido Dr. San Antonio, Texas, 78209 210/888-824-5387

Bishop of West Texas The Rt. Rev. Gary R. Lillibridge

Bishop Co-adjutor-elect The Rt. Rev. David M. Reed

From the editor by Marjorie George

Have I Got a Job for You, Moses


ever since Moses “has there arisen a prophet in Israel like him, whom the Lord knew face to face. He was unequalled for all the signs and wonders that the Lord sent him to perform in the land of Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his servants and his entire land, and for all the mighty deeds and all the terrifying displays of power that Moses performed in the sight of all Israel” (Deut 34:10-12).

But Moses did not get to enter the Promised Land. When Moses was 120 years old, with “his sight unimpaired and his vigor not abated,” the Lord took him up on a high mountain that overlooked all the land God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Here it is, God said to Moses, feast on it with your eyes. But you will not get to enter it (Deut 34). Moses' work was done. For the next part of the journey, God called Joshua, a young buck who was “full of the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hand on him” (Deut 34:9). His strategy, you will remember, was to circle the town of Jericho until the walls fell down. It worked. Such is the nature of vocation; we are called, we are given gifts, we are set in a particular place

at a particular time, to serve God's people (that would be all people). In this issue of Reflections, our writers explicate the many aspects of vocation, particularly with a view toward the laity of the Church. Our baptisms, our confirmations, the Catechism of the Church lay a claim on our lives that, when we accept it, is nothing less than being a part of the bringing about of God’s Kingdom. Many of us are accustomed to thinking of "vocation" - it comes from the Latin for "call" - as it applies to the ordained priesthood. In "The Meaning of Vocation,"* A. J.Conyers says the affiliation grew out of the early monastic movement that "so powerfully affected people's notions of the extent to which one might go in anwer to a divine call, that 'vocation' came to be associated with that one role in the church." The Protestant reformers, particularly Luther, sought to broaden the term and to introduce the teaching "that everyone, no matter their occupation, was a proper object of divine call" (pg 11-12). The result, says Conyers, was the idea that vocation had merely to do with occupation. The difference, says Elizabeth Newman in "Called Through Relationship," is this: "while career refers primarily to human effort, vocation points in another direction. The initiative resides

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We invite readers from every denomination or no denomination. To subscribe (there is no charge) send name, address, and e-mail address to marjorie.george@dwtx.org or Diocese of West Texas, Attn: Marjorie George, P. O. Box 6885, San Antonio TX 78209.

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●Have I Got a Job for You,Moses from page 3

not with us, but with the One who calls and invites" (pg 22). Thus vocation is not something we initiate, but is our response to the gifts God has given us and the ways in which God calls us to use them. We each hear that call usually in ways that God knows will get our attention: Moses, out tending his father-in-law's flock, is drawn to a bush that is burning but not consumed (Exodus 3:2). Elijah hears it in a still, small voice - some translations say "the sound of sheer silence" - up on a mountain (I Kings 19:12). The women of Threads of Blessing, who teach Ugandan mothers to create and sell beautiful tapestries, hear it in the faces of those women who can now support themselves and send their children to school. A young mother hears it when she tucks in her boys at night and says their prayers with them. A son hears it as he listens to his elderly father's re-telling of a tale he has told many times before.

Steinem at a women's conference recently, and dang the old girl looks good (and she is still not wearing a bra). But I was a young mother in the early 70s, and the pressure to go to work was intense. How dare you, young lady, not storm the corporate high-rise after all your sisters have done for you. I sure did enjoy doing that parish newsletter. Moses died and was buried. His epitaph reads thusly: "Then Moses, the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, at the Lord’s command. He was buried in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor, but no one knows his burial place to this day . . . The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days; then the period of mourning for Moses was ended" (Deut 34:1-8). And the children of God looked to their new leader, who took up his vocation and entered the Promised Land.

Reach Marjorie at marjorie.george@dwtx.org.

An accountant hears it as she comforts a colleague who has been called down by the boss. I heard it 41 years ago at St. Andrew's, San Antonio, when, during announcements one Sunday, the priest said, "We need someone to do our newsletter," and I thought, "Well, I can do that." In what has become a classic definition, Frederick Buechner describes vocation as "that place where your great passion meets the world's great need," and that is true, but living out one's vocation is not always without some struggle (Jane Patterson addresses this in her article on pg 22). Moses could not leave the children of Israel alone for a minute but they were out engraving golden calves. Elijah was fleeing for his life when he encountered God on the mountain. Children throw up in restaurants, colleagues turn on us, and everywhere people tell us to concern ourselves with ourselves first. I saw Gloria


*We are indebted to the generosity of The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University in Waco and the center’s director Dr. Bob Kruschwitz. The Center publishes quarterly issues of Christian Reflection – A Series in Faith and Ethics. Their issue on Vocation was a source of wisdom on that topic, and we have quoted from the issue liberally and with permission. You will find, in their online Ethics Library, a list of topics the journal has covered in the past few years which make for excellent reading for those who are serious about Christian discipleship. See http://www.baylor.edu/ifl/christianreflection/. There you can also subscribe to receive free issues of the printed journal.


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B ecoming Vocation by the Rev. Mike Marsh


should be doing more,” she said. “I want to do more but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what God wants me to do. What is God’s will for my life?” That’s how our conversation began. Her questions and statements are more than familiar to me. I have heard them or variations of them many times before. I have asked and wrestled with them myself, more than a few times. Most of us do, I think, and usually more than once. I wasn’t too quick to speak or to try to answer her questions. I let silence do its work, to deepen her questions. There is more to what she was asking than her spoken questions. Besides, I don’t have her answers. In some sense her questions may be more important than any answer she or I might give. They point to something deep within her - a longing, a calling. I believe she was really asking some of the great questions of life. Who am I? Where am I from? Where am I going? What is my purpose? Ultimately these are questions of

vocation. They are not answered primarily by what we do but, rather, by whom we are becoming. For most of us, I suspect, the vocational question is primarily asked and, unfortunately, often too quickly answered in terms of doing. What are you going to do when you grow up? What will you do when you graduate? What are you doing now that you are retired? What does God want me to do? I wonder if we sometimes get so caught up in figuring out what we should do, what we think God wants us to do, that we sometimes lose sight of the vocational core that lies behind that doing. I am not suggesting these questions are unimportant or that what we do does not matter but that we need to think and see vocation as bigger than we usually do. We need to move “beyond narrow views of vocation to embrace the idea that vocation first and foremost addresses God’s call to the whole person in relationship to their whole life. In other words, vocation is not reserved for only a select group of people, a particular lifestyle, or to some forms of work and profession.” (1)

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● Becoming Vocation from page 5

So what would this bigger view of vocation look like? Listen to what St. Basil the Great says: “The human being is an animal who has received the vocation to become God."(2) How’s that for a bigger view?

not all actions equal? Scripture says that Abraham was hospitable, and God was with him. David was humble, and God was with him. Elias loved interior peace, and God was with him. So, do whatever you see that your soul desires according to God, and guard your heart.(4)

That summarizes well what I told the woman who was asking me what she should do. I trusted she already had, somewhere within her, her This vocational understanding is revealed in answer so I just asked some questions. “What the incarnation of Jesus the Christ. St. Clement do you want to do? What stirs your heart and of Alexandria explains, “The Word of God became imagination? What fits you? What are your man so that you too may learn from a man how it deepest concerns and longings? Look around, what is even possible for a man to become a god.”(3) Our do you see?” She began to talk about the elderly deepest and truest vocation, then, is to become, who are lonely and have no one to visit them. by grace, what God is by nature. That’s what the She described her concern for children who have LORD told Moses when he said, “You shall be holy, no direction and no one to guide them. She wondered about art as a means of connecting with them. ocation for Christians is not something we choose As she talked she began to cry. “I or decide. We can no more decide our vocation don’t know why I am crying,” she than we decided to be born. It’s not that our lives are said. “I don’t know either,” I said, predetermined, that we have no real freedom. Rather, just “but maybe you are getting more as our birth into this world, our unique creation, was clear on what might be next for an incredible gift from God, so also is our vocation as you.” Christians not a decision but a gift. Though we might have to make decisions in the particular circumstances of I wanted to leave her options our lives, we nonetheless misrepresent our vocation if we open and to be clear with her that see it fundamentally as our choice rather than God’s gift there is no once and for all, finally to us. and forever, expression of our vocation and, as Abba Nistheros Elizabeth Newman, "Called Through Relationship," Vocation, from Christian taught, one is not more right, Reflection - A Series in Faith and Ethics, pg 20. Used with permission. more holy, or better than another. Throughout our lifetime most of us will have many and varied expressions of the one vocation for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45). Jesus echoed those to become God. Vocation “is a dynamic response words in his Sermon on the Mount, “Be perfect, through a variety of choices that can change over therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt. time due to various personal and social contexts 5:48). and how the Spirit is active and interactive in these contexts.”(5) In this regard there is really only one vocation:


to become divine, to move from having been created in the image of God to living in the likeness of God (Gen. 1:26). This one vocation, however, has many different expressions. A saying from the desert fathers makes the point here. One of the fathers asked Abba Nistheros the Great, the friend of Abba Antony: “What good work should I be doing?” He said to him: “Are


Though we may recognize it only in retrospect “the decisions which correspond to our deepest longings proceed from a developing sense of vocation.”(6) Those decisions are made in a particular time and place, and within particular contexts, relationships, and life situations.


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At some point those particularities will change. We age and mature. We move to a new town. We marry or divorce. New interests and passions arise. Jobs change. Children are born. Children grow up and move out. Financial resources can grow or diminish. We retire. A loved one dies. New friendships are made. Opportunities we never dreamed of come to us. Our physical or mental health changes. We have successes and accomplishments as well as failures and disappointments. We recognize new or changing needs in our communities and the world around us. These do not necessarily determine the expression of our vocation, but they become the raw material and context for that expression. The specifics of our lives will change but the core vocation remains. “The goal of that vocation is transformation in God, by God - our personal deification.”(7) That transformation happens within and through the specifics of each of our lives. So what if, rather than seeing the divine will for our lives from a “static absolutist” viewpoint, we took “an evolutionary and relational perspective?”8 What if we received, instead of grasping for, our vocation? I suspect we might discover that God is stingy and wastes nothing of our lives. We would no longer have to put ourselves in the position of reading the Divine Mind to figure out that one and only thing God wants us to do. We would be free to become the person we truly want to be and the person God knows us to already be.


ur primary calling is to be a people who live in communion with our triune God. Only in community with God and others do we begin to discover, occasionally like a flash of lightning, but more often haltingly and by fits and starts, what we are called to do in our lives. Elizabeth Newman, "Called Through Relationship," Vocation, from Christian Reflection - A Series in Faith and Ethics, pg 21. Used with permission.

The Rev. Mike Marsh is rector of St. Philip's Episcopal Church in Uvalde TX. Reach him at marshmk@ stphilipsuvalde.org.

(Endnotes) 1 Kathleen A. Cahalan, Introducing the Practice of Ministry (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2010), 28. 2 Olivier Clément, The Roots of Christian Mysticism (Hyde Park, NY: City Press, 1993), 76 (citing Gregory Nazianzen, Eulogy of Basil the Great, Oration 43, 48 (PG 36, 560)). 3 Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks 1.8.4. 4 John Chryssavgis, In the Heart of the Desert: The Spirituality of the Desert Fathers and Mothers (Bloomington: IN: World Wisdom, Inc., 2003), 13. 5 Cahalan, 30. 6 Francis Kelly Nemeck and Marie Theresa Coombs, Called by God: A Theology of Vocation and Lifelong Commitment (Collegeville: MN: The Liturgical Press, 1992) 1. 7 Nemeck and Coombs, 1. 8 Ibid., 11.

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All Called By Dan Morehead

Like all Christians, I am called to love my neighbor. But I respond to that call on the basis of my particular set of abilities and passions – as a builder of houses, auto-maker, school counselor, youth minister, or dental hygienist. Lee Hardy, "Investing Ourselves in the Divine Economy" Vocation, from Christian Reflection - A Series in Faith and Ethics, pg 35. Used with permission.



am a psychiatrist by vocation. I sit in a chair all day and think with people about who they are and what they are supposed to be doing with their lives. It's very meaningful for them to think about their lives and purpose in this way, as it is for all of us. But I find it extremely difficult to think about vocation in the abstract. It seems like water, slipping through my fingers as I try to get some kind of hold on it. In this way (and perhaps only in this way), I envy the clergy their orderly sense of vocation. They have to jump through plenty of hoops to become clergymen or women, meet with numerous discernment committees, write about, pray about, talk about and dialogue about their true vocation. But they have a formal, explicit process by which they come to a sense of clarity about their vocation, and they have a church which explicitly confirms this through ordination. The rest of us can feel much more at sea about our true direction, and probably many of us non-clergy feel a lot more uncertain and ambivalent about our own callings. And there is another reason why “having a call” seems to refer to priests and not the rest of us. Priests, it seems, cross over from the “world” into the sacred realm of church,


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religion, and spirit. While the rest of us work our secular “day jobs” and go to church on Sunday, they are set apart for praying and serving and doing holy things all the time. The rest of us, it seems, do that only “part time” because we have to deal with the “real world” the rest of the time. When I was a child growing up in an evangelical church, we talked a lot about just being “Sunday Christians” and not living out our faith in the “rest of the week.” There seemed to be a huge divide between the sacred and the secular in life. Some people talked about their day jobs as unimportant, existing only for the purpose of earning money to support family and church. All of this made it very difficult to think about “vocation.” How could you be “called” to some holy purpose when you were doing school, work, or childcare with almost all of your time? As an adult (and Episcopalian), it is easier now to see what was missing. As evangelicals of 50 years ago, our goal was ultimately to leave the “world” and “go to heaven.” But Jesus did not primarily call people to follow him so that they could go to heaven. Jesus called people to live

out the Kingdom of God, right here, right now. Jesus called followers and friends to join him in the healing of the world: He calmed storms, fed the hungry, healed the sick, treated outcasts like family, and invited people out of misery and sin. Jesus went about setting the world right and sent out his disciples to do the same thing. So vocation is not just a matter of being a morally good person, or of financially supporting your family and church, or being a “success” in life. Vocation is about perceiving your particular way of participating in the healing of the world. Our calling, together, is to heal the whole world, with no exceptions – physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you are called to take care of a disabled parent or child, quietly sacrificing years of your life, you are participating in the healing of the world. If you are called to a job which involves picking up trash or landscaping or cleaning, you are participating in the healing of the world. If you are tasked with loving, gracious service to people who are ungrateful and self-centered, you are participating in the healing in the world. If you are tasked with showing generosity and justice in a greedy,

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from "Investing Ourselves in the Divine Economy," by Lee Hardy.


iscerning the shape of God’s will for our lives in the world of work requires a certain kind of literacy, an ability to read the divine economy of human labor and to locate our place within it. God could have created a world in which he saw to our needs directly – a world where food miraculously appears on our tables at mealtime, clothes suddenly show up in our closets at the beginning of each season, and car repairs mercifully occur overnight as we sleep. But . . . God chose to create a world where we, as God’s representatives, are involved in the on-going business of creation and the repair of creation – a world where we assume responsibility for the well-being of the earth and all who inhabit it, exercise our minds and imaginations, and make significant choices and expend our energies. God chose to connect us to each other in a circle of need and care, to make of us a society of interdependent persons who serve each other and are served by each other. Every connection in the social bond is made where human need and human ability meet. from Christian Reflection - A Series in Faith and Ethics, pg 29-30. Used with permission.

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● All Called from page 9

dishonest company, you are participating in the healing of the world. If you are called to face a long, terminal illness, to die with dignity and grace, you are participating in the healing of the world. Why is this so? Because, however imperfectly you do these things, you are living out the way of the Kingdom and the way of the cross. You are absorbing within yourself some of the brunt of sin, evil and decay, and you are fostering new life. You are absorbing some of the chaos, negativity, and callousness of the world, and giving out love, beauty, and grace. You are absorbing the hate and giving away love, absorbing destruction and giving the best of yourself to a better world. And that world is the Kingdom of God, the world as it was meant to be. Every day, I sit with people and think with them about the meaning and purpose of their lives. Every day, I sit with people who have chronic illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Some of them are “disabled” by those illnesses. Vocation is not a “choice” for them, and it has little to do with “following their dreams.” They are called to face disease, pain, and disability as a large part of their vocation. Every day, they humble and inspire me with their courage, their


generosity, and their genuine humanity. They teach me, and those around them, to accept the damage of this damaged world, own their own little part of it, and work as best they can for its healing. As they do so, they profoundly affect me and my efforts to do the same thing. For me, they are the shining examples of vocation. They are the lights of this world and the salt of this earth.

Daniel Morehead is a psychiatrist in private practice. He lives in San Antonio with his wife and 14-year-old son, where they attend St Mark's Episcopal Church. Reach him at dmorehead@austin.rr.com


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Amazing Grace! Discerning Vocation in a Christian Community by The Rev. John G. Lewis, D.Phil.


or many of us, prayerfully discerning our vocations from God often turns into a restless struggle. We grow weary and impatient as we wait in silent solitude expecting to hear the voice of the Lord speaking inside of us. At some point we might even plead, “Lord, what are you calling me to do? Please, answer me!” Even when we enlist the help of others, we frequently see them throw up their hands in frustration. They recognize and acknowledge the near impossibility of determining whether the voice of God is really speaking inside of us. 12 12


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In Romans 12:1-8, Paul suggests a different approach for discerning our vocations from God. Rather than focusing on the interior life of an individual, Paul turns everyone’s attention to community experiences of God’s grace. He directly links these life-giving encounters with grace to concrete actions by some member of the church. God thereby illuminates and confirms our vocations by enriching the lives of others through the actions we take. Thus, for any member of the church, vocational discernment becomes a matter for determination by the entire Christian community. In his letter to the Romans, Paul is writing to churches that he did not start and that have not previously met him or heard his teaching directly. So, in Romans 12:1-8, Paul outlines the moral reasoning and vocational discernment he teaches in all his churches.

First, believers are to present their bodies as living sacrifices to God (12:1).

Earlier in Romans, Paul encourages believers(1) to walk in newness of life by presenting themselves and their “members” (i.e. hands, feet, mouths, minds) as “instruments” or “slaves” of God’s righteousness (6:13, 18). In 12:1 Paul explains the importance of a person’s self-offering to God. He encourages believers to “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God,” employing a metaphor grounded in the sacrifices offered in the Jerusalem Temple. As disciples, we make our sacrificial offerings to God in and through the many ordinary actions we take in the course of our daily lives. Paul characterizes this sacrificial offering of our bodies to God as “reasoned worship” (Greek: logikēn latreian). Most Bibles translate this Greek phrase as “spiritual worship,” but there can be little doubt Paul is referring to a process of moral reasoning in which believers use their minds to discern faithful actions. The Greek word logikēn, from which we derive the English word “logical,” points to the “reasoned” nature of our behavioral discernment. The Greek word latreian signifies a religious rite carried out as part of liturgical worship. In other words, Paul characterizes concrete human actions as “analogous to. . . the sacrifices of grain or animals in the temple cult as

an expression of worship.”2 God is really paying attention to what we do in our day-to-day lives.

Second, believers “prove through testing” the will of God in their lives (12:2).

Paul introduces another dimension of his process of moral discernment in the negative: “Do not be conformed to this world.” Here he echoes Romans 8, where he warns against setting one’s mind on things of the flesh, a way of perceiving and responding to the world that leads to death for believers as well as the community. When we seek to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, we reject many of the behavioral norms and expectations that shape conduct in the wider culture. We try to avoid acting in ways that would reflect our “worship” of worldly idols and gods such as material comfort and well being, and the use of coercive or violent power. Instead, says Paul in 12:2, “be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove through testing [Greek: dokimazein] what is the will of God - what is good, well-pleasing, and perfect.”(2) Paul recognizes the uncertainty of behavioral discernment. To embody Christ in daily life is an imaginative exercise which requires us to reason from the stories about Christ in scripture to the many ways we might act like Christ in our own daily lives. Each time Paul’s communities gather, they reflect together on the specific actions they’ve taken and the consequences of those actions. Collectively, they identify the particular actions through which God is working to enrich the lives of others in the community. These are the actions which are “good, well-pleasing and perfect” in the eyes of God. When a community follows this process of reasoned action and reflection, they “prove through testing” what is God’s will in their daily lives and their minds are renewed and transformed into the mind of Christ himself.

Third, the concrete actions of believers become conduits for grace, the means by which the community is enriched through God’s life-giving power.

Paul reminds us in 12:4 that each member of Christ’s body has a different kind of practice

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continued on page 14


● Discerning Vocation in Christian Community from page 13

(Greek: praxis). According to 12:6-8, these different kinds of practice become the means by which other community members experience God’s life-giving grace [Greek: charisma]. The Greek word charisma and its plural form charismata are both rooted in charis, or “grace.” The words are usually translated as “gift/gifts” or “spiritual gift/gifts.” We hear this in the NRSV translation of 12:6: “We have gifts [charismata] that differ according to the grace [charis] given to us.” This translation/interpretation suggests that individuals possess the “gift” of God’s “grace” in various forms. This understanding leads many of us in the church to compile our own “spiritual gifts” inventory.

God thereby illuminates and confirms our vocations by enriching the lives of others through the actions we take. Thus, for any member of the church, vocational discernment becomes a matter for determination by the entire Christian community.

But this translation and interpretation of charisma is not what Paul intends. Rather, he explains that the charisma does not manifest itself unless and until a person offers his or her body as a living sacrifice through which God’s grace then enriches the lives of other people. This understanding is clear from the passage. For instance, the charisma associated with a “minister” takes place “in the ministering” (12:7). So, too, the charisma associated with a teacher takes place “in the teaching” (12:7). The grace associated with a person who is an encourager (or “exhorter” in the NRSV) takes place “in the encouragement” offered (12:8). The charisma associated with a community leader is experienced “in the diligence” of that leader. In every example Paul lists in 12:7-8, the charisma (an experience


of grace) occurs “in” the doing of the particular action by the disciple. To use the language of 12:12, other people experience grace when a believer offers their body as a living sacrifice, as part of their “reasoned worship” of God. It is God who then confirms that person’s vocation - the teacher, the encourager, the leader - by gracing the lives of others through their Christ-like acts of service. Conclusion. For Paul, vocational discernment is not about the individual trying to hear the voice of God deep within himself or herself. Rather, vocational discernment is directed toward the experiences of grace by other members of the community that establish God’s call in a person’s particular acts of Christ-like service to others.

(Endnotes) 1 Luke Timothy Johnson, Reading Romans: A Literary and Theological Commentary (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys, 2001), 189. 2 Paul utilizes the Greek verb dokimazein at other important points in his letters, all of them in one way or another connected with the discernment of faithful actions. See Romans 1:28; 2:18; 14:22; 1 Corinthians 3:13; 11:28; 16:3; 2 Corinthians 8:8, 22; 13:5; Galatians 6:4; Philippians 1:10; 1 Thessalonians 2:4; 5:21.

The Rev. Dr. John Lewis is Co-Director of St. Benedict's Workshop, missioner for adult Christian formation in the Diocese of West Texas, and Adjunct Instructor at the Seminary of the Southwest. Reach him at johnlewisws@gmail.com.


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photography by Santos Nagao

Seasons of Vocation

by the Rev. Carol Morehead


’ve been ordained now for nearly two years. And I am blessed to have a vocation, a call, to live in a specific way to serve God in this time, this place, in all the particularity of who I am. Yet I spent many years living into other vocations; this is just one slice of my life, one season of my life as a disciple and one season of living into God’s call and claim on me. So this is how vocation is: we all have seasons in our life when we are called to specific, particular, unique work for God’s kingdom. These seasons are affected by many aspects of

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● Seasons of Vocation from page 15

our lives: where we live, our commitments to other people and institutions, our spiritual development, our physical abilities, our gifts and talents. Often we believe that our vocation is a case of properly assessing our God-given abilities

and aligning them with what is needed in our context. God, however, is often rather wily about how opportunities for ministry present themselves. Sometimes it’s in ways that make total sense – I am called to serve right in that sweet spot that really feels like it flows from the core of my being. Other times, I may find myself pushed into unknown places that stretch and grow me beyond what I ever thought possible. And all this depends on the season of our life in Christ. See, too often we wait until we believe we know what we are supposed to do, and we won’t act or follow a call until we have a sense of certainty. But, in my experience, we can only know what we can do and where we are in a particular season of our lives when we are in it. When I had small children, what I could do was very different than what I was able to do, what I thought I should do, what I sometimes wanted to do. What I can do now – with one son still home and in high school, two sons almost out of college, and a spouse who works in another city – means that this particular season is mediated by the way all the varied and seemingly unrelated parts of my life align and shape my options and my decisions. One thing is for sure: regardless of the season I am in, I am always, always called to ministry in some way, shape, or form. Looking back, I find that regardless of the group, I have always been engaged in ministry in some way, every place I went. The groups of which I was a part often turned to me as a leader, whether teaching, leading small groups and Bible studies, planning worship, heading up outreach ministries, or giving spiritual guidance and a listening ear. This story arch of ministry seemed natural – what I was supposed to be doing. It looked different in each stage of my life, depending on my circumstances. No matter the time in my life, this call to leadership in some form was always present. The specifics of how it looked, however, changed with the season as God continued to work on me, through me.



– Fall/Winter 2014


f we root our undersanding of vocation in God's own abundance, then we see what a mistake it is to think about vocation simply as finding our talents and figuring out what to do with them. Rather and more fully, it is discovering and living out of the infinite and gratuitous abundance of God. Elizabeth Newman, "Called Through Relationship," Vocation, from Christian Reflection - A Series in Faith and Ethics, published by The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. pg 21. Used with permission.

When we allow ourselves the space to listen to our lives, to recognize the season we are in, and then to allow our ministry both to be shaped by our context and to help shape our decisions, we find that God is always calling us, luring us to be a part of something more than we are on our own. How can we discern in the seasons of our lives? First, begin with listening. Find space for solitude and silence in order to hear God speaking to you. Also, listen to the messages that come to you in other ways – through the things others notice and say, through the reactions you have to areas of ministry, through those things which resonate with you (there are no coincidences!). These are all ways in which God may be speaking and directing you. Next, consider discernment in some sort of structured way. We falsely believe that discernment is only for those considering ordination. Really, as the body of Christ, we must all participate in helping one another hear God at work among us. This might mean talking with a priest, a spiritual director, or trusted friends who know you. It might also mean reaching out to someone who doesn’t know you well yet who might be able to join with you in prayer and listening. Together, ask questions: What am I hearing? What am I looking for? What is God doing in my life? Where is there need in the community of faith? What are my talents and abilities suited for? How might I be closing off possibilities that God is nudging me toward?

you are serving that are no longer how God is needing to use you? Do you need to let go of something so that God can begin a new work in your life? Are you on the cusp of a new season? What must die in order for new growth to begin? We are resurrection people. That means our ministry is part of a cycle of death and rebirth, that God is continually the source of who we are and who we are becoming. In my own journey, I spent many years believing I was running away from a sense of God’s call on my life. What I have come to see is that I was in a different season of my life, that God was working through me all along. Eventually, I began to see my place in a broader community, in the mission of God in the world. Through listening, discernment, and evaluation, rather than running away from God’s call to serve, I found how to embrace it more fully, how to let go of myself and fall into God’s mercy and love. Now I lay myself open before God to be led into ministry, whatever the season of my life. I have a feeling it won’t look like anything I can ever imagine.

The Rev. Carol Morehead is assistant rector at St. Mark's Episcopal Church, San Antonio. She graduated from Seminary of the Southwest in May 2013. Reach her at cmorehead@stmarks-sa.org.

Finally, find space in your ministry to periodically evaluate. Are there ways in which

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arol Morehead explains that she wrote this poem many years ago, as she was wrestling with God and with her future, after years spent turning aside from the deep call of ordained ministry. She started discernment for ordination shortly after this time. Carol's words: One of my favorite quotes is this: Vocatus atque non vocatus, deus aderit, which translated is 'bidden (called) or unbidden, God is present.' For me, vocatus is God calling, God present, God inviting and luring. We begin by listening, for God’s call begins with silence, creating space in which to hear. In hearing the call we begin to enter wisdom; we enter the Mysteries. Listen . . . to what is God calling you?

Vocatus Like the crisscrossing trunks of the trees on the lawn my mind wanders here and there. Grounded by my roots of what it means to believe, to worship, to be the body of Christ but growing upward toward open sky. New horizons pull me to the blue. Sometimes I feel separated from the root, or split, as these trees are, into two arches reaching skyward and sometimes weighing each other down. All those branches grow each spring with leaves prolific, an ever expanding canopy that filters the sun and the rain to the green grass below. How can I resist growth and yearn for it at the same time? I feel both weary and alive, tired of upward movement yet energized to see farther into myself, into this crazy world. A restlessness that never leaves me, that I must use, toward the elusive Something More . . . I’ve grown pale these many years, settling at the roots and ignoring the sun that always calls my name. Always. I turn to the dark, prefer the cloudy days. The light hurts my eyes;


it scares me to have to look at myself in such Brightness. And yet. And yet this call, to move toward what was always meant to be, toward the pain and surrender of being myself, of living into who I am and am to be. I can no longer bear the safety of silence, must move into the light, must feel the stretch of bone and muscle as they grow, the flex of movement. This tension is leading me toward wholeness toward myself, toward the world. The holding back is hurting me now. And so I let go. I fall into the open sky, into the great Unknown, and I begin to dance, heart and soul, to the divine Rhythm of call and celebration and creation made Whole.


– Fall/Winter 2014


Seasonal Work

s I turned 40, the seasons of my life began to change. The years of staying home with young children were ending as my children approached middle and high school. I had done all the volunteer work I could find and find meaning in.

by Diane Thrush

It was time to work outside the home and help my family financially. I had a perfectly good degree in education, and teaching offered the best job ever for a mom – the hours, the vacations, a schedule as close to my children’s schedules as possible in terms of working full time. And so off I went to teach school. I found a job quickly in the barrio. No problem, I would teach whatever children came to me. What I was not prepared for, though, was how much public education had changed since I had taught before having children. Very quickly I was bored beyond belief with the rigidity and lack of creativity that I found teaching in Texas at that time. I hated my work, and going to school each day was a hard task for me, especially spiritually. I knew God had given me gifts to teach and a love of children, but there was little room in the classroom to exercise these gifts at that time in public education. Then my principal created a special program in our school for children who by fourth grade were considered “At Risk.” All the programs for students designated as such were in middle

and high school. She felt we were getting to them too late and that starting in 4th and 5th grade would get us ahead of the curve. I found myself completely drawn to this program – a call? Yes! Teachers were not clamoring to teach these kids, so I had the job for the next school year. And so I entered the mission field. I co-taught these students with another teacher and a teacher’s aide. We were given a portable building out in the "back forty" of our campus. The water table was very high, and so with four drops of rain, we were in a lake. We had to use pallets to make a ‘bridge’ to walk on when the lake appeared so we didn’t wade ankle deep to get into the building. But, the good thing was that we were left alone out there. As we were told, no one liked our kids, so no one came out there unless they had to. We had more freedom than possible in a regular classroom, no more than 15 children in each class, and the ability to be as creative as we wanted. Yes, these children had behavior problems. They had already failed once, most had limited English proficiency, extreme poverty, and virtually

continued on page 20

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● Seasonal Work from page 19

no role models. Now this was teaching I could get my teeth into. We were free to love on these children, set firm boundaries through an indepth behavior modification system, and be very creative in the curriculum as we sought to find alternate ways to teach children who didn’t fit the learning mold. The understanding of how children learn was exploding at that time, and we sought to implement as many new practices in our classroom as we could. We took lots of field trips as our children had never been outside their barrio. We tried to show them another world. What was then Southwestern Bell started a mentoring program, and we were the first classes to have these professional men and women to mentor our children. I could go on and on in the many ways we found to intervene in the lives of these children.

students, yes, but the money could be spent in other ways. Facing the end of this program that meant so much to me, I realized my mission was at an end, my call to this special work was closing. I spent that whole last year praying for what my next call would be. Due to the timing in my family life, I was now free to think about God’s next call for me which might not include teaching school. By late spring, I knew that this season in my life was ending. I didn’t know what was next, but with prayer and guidance I dove off that diving board trusting God would direct me. I have always looked back at that time in my life with a sure and steady sense that I was living a call from God in the midst of an ordinary life - teaching school. It was indeed a remarkable season!

Diane Thrush is a retired chaplain and a member of St. Luke’s, San Antonio. Reach Diane at dianewt@aol.com

I wore a bracelet that I could see and touch to remind me of the God who encircled me. I had special icons, some blatantly Christian, others not so obvious in my room to remind me whose mission I was on. God had shown me a way out of the boredom and frustration that a regular classroom was for me. God had given me a rich ministry to this special group of children. It was remarkably rewarding and I tried never to forget I was doing a ministry on the South side of San Antonio. Each day as I traveled across town to school, I prayed for my students and my partners by name. I prayed all the way home to leave behind the frustrations, heartaches, and angry words heard that day. I wore a bracelet that I could see and touch to remind me of the God who encircled me. I had special icons, some blatantly Christian, others not so obvious in my room to remind me whose mission I was on. After 10 years in this program, new leadership arrived in the district. With dollar signs in their eyes they decided to eliminate our program because it was not "cost effective." Good for


The rest of the story:

After Diane left teaching, she went on to become a chaplain at Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio. Of that work, she says, "I was at Methodist 12 years. And when I interviewed for the position at Children's, I was asked what I thought gave me credentials to work there. I replied that I believed after 14 years of teaching school, I knew how to work with children and their parents. It turned out to be a huge benefit to my work. I knew how to interact with children, and I understood their developmental patterns. The staff at Children's Hospital are specifically trained about children and these issues, and I brought that same training as a chaplain beyond the traditional chaplain training. "I have said many times, everything I have done built upon what went before."


– Fall/Winter 2014

With All Your Heart


ike Diane Thrush, Stephen Hudson has found his vocation in teaching. Hudson's days are full of high school students mastering -- or struggling with -- Algebra I and Geometry at the Design and Technology Academy at Roosevelt High School in San Antonio. Hudson spent 12 years in ministry before circumstances took him in a different direction, so he brings to teaching an already-forged love of the Lord. Here, he applies a special piece of scripture to his teaching.

by Stephen Hudson Teaching has been a natural way for me to continue in ministry, and I really do think of it as that. Colossians 3:23 says, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as to the Lord, and not unto men." This is my teaching verse. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart …" teaching, tutoring, grading papers, lesson planning, whatever, do it with all your heart. This is a tough one, because this isn’t just a physical command. Yes, I do come home at night exhausted, because I give everything I have. But that’s not enough. I also need to give my heart. It’s real easy to get caught up in the complaining – how the kids don’t do this, or they don’t follow the rules, etc. But I have to remind myself to close my door to those external (and internal) voices that want to complain, instead focusing on the part where I give my heart to my work and my students. This is where that saying 'What Would Jesus Do?' really hits me. Would He be tough sometimes? Yes, because He sees the heart. But would He also be compassionate? Absolutely, always.

respect that I am due. I don’t serve myself here. The more I get out of the way and remember that I am serving Him while I am at school, the smoother it goes. "And not unto men." Believe it or not, this is the easiest part of the verse. Men (or “human masters” as other versions say) can be terrible bosses, fallible and subject to the same struggles we all are. Our Master, however, is fair, kind, loving, and forgiving. Serving Him correctly means that I will be able to withstand controversy when it comes, and it always comes. My conscience is clear. I don’t worry about my human ‘masters’ because I am serving Ssomeone higher than them. I fully believe that I am in the right profession, and it challenges me every day, like Philippians 2:12, where I am "continuing to work out my salvation with fear and trembling." My work is my mission field and my personal "salvation workshop," as well.

"As to the Lord…" This isn’t about me, about my ego, about the

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“Yes” to Love’s Obligations The Rev. Jane Lancaster Patterson, Ph.D.


young couple and their baby are enduring a long airplane flight, squashed together in their tiny seats, the seat in front too close for them even to lean over to try to grab a fallen pacifier.

The baby squirms and fusses. All of a sudden, they notice a tell-tale odor wafting up from their little one. The father grabs the baby and the diaper bag and heads up the aisle toward the restroom. Heads turn and noses wrinkle as the odor follows father and baby up the aisle. Once in the miniature restroom with his squirming infant, the father spreads the changing cloth out on the toilet-top, leans over in the cramped space, and begins going


through the familiar motions of cleaning his son, smiling at him, noticing how he reaches for things. A few minutes later, they are heading back to their seat, the son beaming as his father bounces him up and down. Fellow passengers smile, some remembering their own intense years of parenting. Something like this happens every day in the life of a parent. But does this father have the vocation to change stinky diapers on a crowded airplane? No, he doesn’t. He has the vocation to raise a child to adulthood with all the love, wisdom, patience and courage he can bring to this sacred calling. A consequence of his vocation to parenthood is all manner of obligations like dirty diapers, the need to stay home with a sick child, the obligation to carry out consistent discipline when he would rather just have fun with his children. Having said, “yes” to parenting, that father’s life will expand in directions he never expected, and many he would not wish


– Fall/Winter 2014

for. Every significant “yes” to a relationship or type of work will bring with it some attendant obligations and, truth be told, some suffering. Are these darker threads in our vocations a problem? Do they interfere with our sense of calling? We might think that growing resentment over the obligations and suffering that go with a certain vocation is a sign that the vocation is coming to an end. But when the vocation is still vibrant, it is my experience that enduring through the obligations and suffering actually deepens and sweetens the sense of call.

Every significant “yes” to a relationship or type of work will bring with it some attendant obligations and, truth be told, some suffering. It is highly likely that the story of the horrible diaper on the airplane will become part of this family's lore. Re-telling the story grounds everyone in the costs of love, costs this father is glad to pay. St. Paul loved to remind his churches of his costly love of them. As he wrote to the community of believers in Corinth:

continued on page 24

Intention by James R. Dennis, O.P. Tonight, I don't want to sit with the dying anymore. I do not want to watch their families or see the struggle in their eyes. I cannot bear to walk across another glossy, antiseptic hospital floor. Tonight, I do not want to pray for those who have been lost anymore. I do not want to try and out-ride the black cares that chase me through the night. I do not want to find myself falling into some broken-hearted trap door. Tonight, I do not want to pray for the unthinkable, to beseech against long odds. I do not want to kneel, or to take up the heavy string of beads. I do not want to wonder whether heaven spurns or heaven nods. Tonight, I do not want to know about the tumor's metastasis or reduction. I do not want to hold a hand, or swear a curse in the parking lot. I do not want to think about the silent grave's seduction. Tonight, I do not want to listen to the breathing as the lungs begin to fill, or the chatter in the hallways as the wishes of the patient and the family are weighed. But tomorrow, despite my clumsy tongue and artlessness, tomorrow I will. (c) James R. Dennis Used by permission

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● "Yes" to Love's Obligations from page 23

“Five times I have received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I received a stoning. Three times I was shipwrecked; for a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from bandits, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers and sisters; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, hungry and thirsty, often without food, cold and naked. And, besides other things, I am under daily pressure because of my anxiety for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:24-28). What Paul is saying is, “This is what you mean to me. This is how deeply I love you. I would go through all of this and more, because you are my sacred calling.” In a recent post, the Rev. Mike Marsh wrote on the role of suffering in our lives. "We can never really understand what it means to believe in, confess, or follow Jesus as 'the Messiah, the Son of the living God,' until we deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow him," said Marsh. "The cross is not usually a part of our 'program for happiness.' The cross stands as a sign of contradiction to our programs for happiness. "God does not give us crosses to bear. The burdens, difficulties, losses, and frustrations we encounter every day are not our cross. They are just the circumstances of life." And our vocations are not immune to all kinds of vexations, inconveniences, and sometimes great and real suffering. In recognizing and accepting the shadow of the cross in our work or our relationships, we come into contact with the mystery of God's life in our world, the way in which life and death, joy and suffering, service and exaltation are inseparable from one another.


A rational calculation will not prepare us for this divine encounter, for how is the work of parenting, or marriage, or even our jobs really completely rewarding, when tallied up against the obligations and frustrations of spending our lives for others? Yet we are drawn by love into these commitments where we shoulder the cross, just as God was drawn into our world by love and compassion, all the way to the cross, and through the cross into eternal life. The one thing to watch for would be those occasions when our suffering and obligations do not lead to larger life. Then we need to question whether perhaps God is calling us to a change of course. Some questions for reflection: What are your primary vocations? What obligations go along with your particular callings? Have you known suffering on account of any of your callings? Have you experienced both the kinds of obligations that strengthen and the kinds of obligations that deplete a vocation? If so, what was the difference between the two experiences?

The Rev. Jane Patterson, Ph.D., is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin. She serves with John Lewis as missioner for adult Christian formation in the Diocese of West Texas, and in the leadership of St. Benedict's Workshop in San Antonio. Reach her at jane.patterson@ssw.edu


– Fall/Winter 2014

Book list Books on Vocation Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy (Crown Publishing, pb. $14.95) An excellent read for individuals looking to find a true and authentic path for their lives. With sections on The Call to Attention, Receiving Calls, Invoking Calls, Saying No to Calls, and Saying Yes to Calls, he provides inspiring psychological, spiritual and practical guidance on vocation that is about a life well lived in all aspects of who we are. A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You are Born to Do by Thomas Moore (Random House, hb. $24.95) From the best selling author of Care of the Soul, the author, a former monk and psychotherapist, takes his readers deep into the question, “Why have I been created?” The quest to find a “life’s work in all its depth and mystery…jobs large/small, long-term, temporary” . . . these all contribute to vocation. “A job is never just a job. It is always connected to a deep and invisible process of finding meaning in life through work.” (from the front cover). This is a book for explorers and questioners, a gift to give yourself. Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker Palmer (Josey-Bass Publishing, hb. $18.95) “Is the life I am living the life that wants to live in me?” asks the Quaker educator Parker Palmer in this book on vocation. Sharing from his own personal journey and the journeys of others he guides his readers into a deeper exploration of finding the true self that is their birthright. And then he sets them on a course of listening to their lives instead of telling their lives what they want to do. A compassionate and compelling meditation of discovering your path in life.

This book list was compiled for Reflections by our friends at Viva Bookstore. These books are available at: Viva Books and Gallery 8407 Broadway San Antonio, Tex. 78209 210-826-1143 or 1-800-826-1143 www.vivabooks.com Email: viva@vivabooks.com Call or go online to purchase and/or order books. Viva offers a customer discount card that gives you a $10.00 credit once you spend $100.00 on books/gifts (excluding special orders, non-discount items or sale items) Viva is a founding member of the Episcopal Booksellers Association. Shop local and small for the holidays. Ornaments and gifts from local and area vendors. Special books for Advent and Christmas . . . for big folks and little ones too!

continued on page 26

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Book list Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity by David Whyte (Penguin Putman, pb. $16.00) “To have a firm persuasion in our work-to feel that what we do is right for ourselves and good for the world at the same exact time-is one of the great triumphs of human existence.” (quote from the book). This author has introduced poetry and spirituality into corporate business settings as a means of understanding individual and organizational creativity and helping employees and employers deepen connections to their life’s work. It is full of thought-provoking ideas and challenges. I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion by Dawna Markova (Conari Press, pb. $15.95) Looking through a lens of “who am I?” rather than “what do I do?” this author looks past the rapid fire social and technological challenges we face and teaches her readers how to navigate their lives from the inside out. “What would it mean to live fully, sensually alive, and passionately, on purpose?” she asks. When we can begin to move from the place of a question such as this, we “are able to offer to the world the gifts that are ours alone to give.”

Watch and Pray, a four-week Advent study from the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas, begins the First Sunday of Advent, November 30. The online study is being written by the Rev. Drs. John Lewis and Jane Patterson and will be posted at www.watchandpray-dwtx.org. The study will be based on the lectionary readings for each of the four Sundays in Advent, with daily reflections and questions that explore one of the themes for the week. Plus, daily brief text messages will deliver a thought or suggested practice for every day of Advent to subscribers. To receive the study automatically in your e-mail inbox, sign up at www.watchandpray-dwtx.org. All materials will remain available online throughout the study, so latecomers are welcome. Contact Marjorie George at marjorie.george@dwtx.org with questions.

The last word Disguised as God by the Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge


f you’ve made it this far in this edition of Reflections, you’ve covered quite a bit of material on the subject of the vocation of the Church’s laity. I have been asked to add some final thoughts. I decided to look up some synonyms for the word “vocation.” Predictably, my Webster’s Thesaurus included words such as “calling, mission, pursuit, employment, trade, occupation, and duty.” What caught my eye in the thesaurus, however, were two brief definitions for vocation: “The work for which one has prepared," and “The work at which one is engaged.” Sometimes both of these definitions accurately describe how one spends one’s day, and sometimes they might be different. There are many people who are “engaged” at particular jobs or work for which they did not necessarily “prepare” (such as someone with a degree and/or training in something, but actually working in a different field). All disciples of Christ are called to be exercising their Christian vocation within whatever other vocation may be a part of their daily life. At our annual Clergy Conference in October, our presenter – The Rt. Rev. Laura Ahrens, Bishop Suffragan of Connecticut – was leading us in reflecting on discipleship and apostleship. She mentioned something that I found very helpful in thinking about lay vocations. She encourages laity to think of themselves, daily and regularly, as a disciple of Jesus cleverly and creatively disguised as a “teacher, accountant, plumber, banker, parent, waiter” (fill in the blank). I very much liked this thought, and I hope that you will think about your Christian vocation and discipleship using this image.

as a (fill in the blank). There’s a little bit of Walter Mitty fantasy in each of us. However, unlike the hapless Walter Mitty’s grand imagination, may we find success in our “disguise for Christ.” Being a disciple of Jesus and actively participating in the vocation of all Christians, we discover and know (in the words of the above synonyms) our true “calling, mission, and duty.” And speaking of duty, I hope that you experience your daily vocation (i.e., your daily Christian duty) in the words of the Indian poet, Rabindrinath Tagore: I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and found that life was duty. I acted and found that duty was joy.

The Rt. Rev. Gary Lillibridge is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.

Have some fun with this. When you wake up tomorrow and every day, think of yourself as doing the Lord’s work, and in doing it, being cleverly disguised

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Reflections fall/winter 2014  

Reflections is the spiritual formation magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.

Reflections fall/winter 2014  

Reflections is the spiritual formation magazine of the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas.