Andy Hawes 


Vocation & Calling


This is the month when the church especially prays for those to be ordained and for vocations to the ordained ministry. But all of us are called by God, and each of us is given the task of discerning the Lord’s call to us each day. Responding to God’s call is the essential work of every Christian. St Paul teaches us that our relationship with God is God’s creative act: ‘For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ’ (2 Corinthians 4.6). In this sense, all creation is a response to the initiative or call of God, and our own call to faith is part of God’s creative action. In the same way as he called the visible and invisible creation into existence, he has called each of us into relationship with him. As Psalm 91 puts it ‘we are his people and the sheep of his pasture’. Vocation is not an experience of self- determination; it is a process of attentive response to the action of God on and in our lives.

Christian living is a dynamic process. We are called to respond to the changing circumstances around us and to constantly reappraise our own gifts and abilities as they wax and wane, develop or diminish. The discernment of the Lord’s call cannot be reduced to some kind of box-ticking exercise. It is rather a process of reflection on the many aspects of a living relationship. It demands an approach of humility and listening not only to our own conscience but also to the influences at work on us from outside ourselves. Vocation is the search for the truth about ourselves and the situation find ourselves in and working out the response of faith in the light of both these inner and outer realties.

At the heart of the discernment process is the essential activity, which is prayerful attentiveness to God’s Word. We have to allow the creative Word, which is the origin of all things to have space in our heart and mind. The lives of the saints are full of examples of those who simply heard a word of scripture and responded immediately. This is not possible without an openess to the work of the Holy Spirit: ‘the spirit is the source of our lives let the spirit direct our course’ teaches St Paul. 

Discernment is not an individual process; it has to be carried out in and with the Body of Christ, the Church. This could be something as simple as talking through possibilities with another Christian, or asking for prayers about a particular decision. It is a mistake to think that it is not important to discern the Lord’s call in every day matters. It is a mark of prayerful faithfulness to seek guidance in all things. No decision is too small to have an impact for the Kingdom of God.

As we pray for those to be ordained at Petertide we encounter the great mystery of God shaping human being. This mystery is at work in each of us and to recognise that is a profound moment of spiritual growth.