Summary: Through Isaiah’s call to Israel to become the light of the world, and John’s recognition of the Christ, we see a model of vocational call that we can follow. God calls us all to different vocations, but one we are all called to is to pray.
2nd Sunday after Epiphany
God Calls us All to Vocation.
Preached at Saint John the Evangelist, Cold Lake, Morning Prayer
20 January 2002
Almighty God, your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ is the light of the world. May your people illuminated by your word and sacraments, shine with the radiance of His glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in thy sight, O Jehovah, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.
There is a theme that runs through all of the readings today, a theme that is near and dear to my heart and soul, and a theme that involves every single one of us in this community of believers – that theme is vocation. Vocation is defined as what we in our lives as Christians are called to do, called by God to serve Him as members of the Bride of Christ on earth, the holy church. The particular vocation that came to me through these readings this day was not our major vocation – the primary task that we are drawn to – but the vocation that all Christians are called to, the vocation of prayer. First, a little discussion on the readings to draw out the themes of vocation.
The text of Isaiah was written to the Jews in exile in Assyria who, in many ways, believed that their world had ended. This particular part of the book of Isaiah is called second Isaiah, or Isaiah of the Exile. Isaiah does not offer the Jews simple comfort, but tells them that God is calling them to something much greater, listen to what God has said through the Prophet: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the survivors of Israel.” What God is telling the Jews is that he has far more in store for them then simply restoring what was lost, more than simply bringing them home and back to the temple of Jerusalem that they had lost. Indeed what He promises is something much grander, “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6) Israel will not be simply the mode of their own salvation, but the mode of salvation for all the nations of the world. What a wonderful call to vocation – a call to action and the promise of a wonderful future. Note what context it was given in – Israel was in exile and life as they knew it was over, and yet God called them out of that tragedy into an even greater vocation.
Even in tragedy, horror and sorrow, God calls out to us. That call is to pull ourselves into an even greater vocation than we had experienced before. Isaiah says that God defined who he was even as he was being formed in his mother’s womb – and it is here that each of our vocations is imprinted upon us, before we are even born.
In John’s testimony about Christ’s baptism we hear his confirmation that this was indeed the Son of God that had been promised. What interests me the most in this passage is the reaction of the disciples of John who follow Jesus. John was standing with two of his followers as Jesus walked by and said to them “Look, here is the Lamb of God.” The disciples heard him say this, and turned and followed Jesus. Now here is the exchange that is so fascinating to me:
“When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them ‘What are you looking for?’ They said to Him, ‘Rabbi’ (which translated means teacher), ‘Where are you staying?’ He said to them, ‘Come and see.’ They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with Him that day.” (John 1:35-39). Listen to that sequence again:
They came…they saw where He was staying…they remained with Him.
This is a wonderful retelling of our own story, the cycle that is our life as a Christian – we come to church, we learn where Jesus is, and we stay with Him. We are born and baptized (we come), we grow and learn about Jesus (we see where He is staying), and eventually we die (we remain with Him). We wake in the morning (we come) and dedicate our day to the Lord, we go out into the world into His creation (we see where He is staying), and we act as Christ’s worker in the midst of His creation (we remain with Him).