Following your call …

I wonder if we took a quick survey today,
how many of you would say you had a sense of feeling “called”.
My guess is that it is probably not very many of us.
We clergy try hard – especially in the Protestant part of the Christian Church.
The concept of call – or ‘vocation’ as it is some times referred to –
gets a pretty solid push in our worship, our sermons, our bible studies.

But my hunch, if I was going to be honest about this,
is that I reckon the sense, the feeling, that most people of the Christian faith have
is that a call is something for someone else.
And the feeling, I think, is that it is really probably for full time ministers
or people who are involved in some occupation
that is specifically about their faith.   And I mean specifically

I reckon the way that we read this story is part of the issue.
We tend to see Jesus, walking up to semi-random people,
and asking them to stop doing their day job, and instead come and do “ministry”

It also suggests that their day job wasn’t particularly important, but ministry is.

But let’s flip it round a bit and stop concentrating on the tasks.
Odds are, Jesus is using a metaphor here.
That’s when you use an image (like “fishing”) but you don’t really mean fishing.

Jesus could have used countless other metaphors –
and who knows what our theology might have been throughout the ages –
but he was wandering past fishermen at the time.
Sometimes I wish he had been wandering past a baker’s house,
or a winemaker, or a carpenter’s workshop
and we might have avoided the poor ideas of
“go out and hook up some people for Christ”.
But that’s another story.

I think the implication of fishing for people implies relationship.
It implies connecting to them in the same community – in the net together.
I think, in the words of one writer, Jesus called ordinary people,
right in the middle of their ordinary lives,
to be in relationship with the ordinary people all around them
and as people respond to that, Jesus does extraordinary things.

We actually try to capture that in our mission statement here at Kippax,
which talks about our call.
We are called to … create a loving nurturing community,
growing into a deeper relationship with God through Jesus the Christ.

Nothing about full time ministry occupations.    Nothing about clergy.
Nothing about employment.   Nothing about tasks, occupations, and duties.
We are called into relationship with people – into the net together.

What does it mean for us to think about our calling
that we are called by God
to be in relationship with the ordinary (and un-ordinary) people around us.
What would it mean for us to take that sense of call one step more seriously.

Try thinking of someone you know and you spend (or could)
spend some significant time with.
What would living out a call to be more “netted together” look like?

Here at Kippax, as we get going in earnest for 2014
I’d like to do a bit of a refresher about us with that sense of calling.

At Kippax, it is really hard to draw who we are.
But I think it is a bit like this.   Given, this could look like putting up activities
but instead I invite you to think of this as a community of mini communities.
And some of our living involves lots of people and some involves not so many
And some of it involves people who are also connected to this place, and some doesn’t.
And there is much more that could have been put screen here, but hasn’t been

1

Now we can see that there are some obvious connections
with some of these mini communities
We call them “community services”
And there are other obvious connections with others – we call them “congregational life”
And there are some that don’t easily and readily fit in to one or the other.

2

Now and then, for the sake of organisational planning convenience,
we can think of ourselves like this – a structural diagram.
And we can think of Council, and Congregation, and UnitingCare

3

And when we let this last one be the main way we think,
we mask the fact that this way of thinking is nothing more than structural convenience.
This isn’t who we are.
This is just one way of thinking of the organisation among us
It’s actually pretty rare, and with quite few people, that the structural diagram is helpful

This is who we are.
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A network of communities and relationships.

This is our call.
Hopefully none of us will feel the need
to talk about UnitingCare Kippax as “them” as opposed to “us”
Nor will any of us talk about congregational life as “them” as opposed to “us”
It doesn’t make sense.  That’s not who we are.

We are all in that network.   We are all on that screen.
We are called into relationships with the ordinary people all around us
and as we really pay attention to those many many relationships
God does extraordinary things.

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