To be Lutheran, to be ‘both-and’

What is our vocation? Professor Mary Jane Haemig at Luther Seminary in Minneapolis/St Paul describes it this way: Our vocation was born in us when we were created by God. When we were born, we received our vocation to care for others in creation, to serve a world in need.

Basically, our common vocation as human beings is mutual support and care, which reflects our interdependence with one another and the importance of all our relationships – with creation, with ourselves, with others, and with God.

Professor Haemig goes on to say that at our Baptism, God forgives us our sins of failing to live out our vocation. Through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are forgiven and set free to live for the sake of others. The cross of Christ not only saves us from our sins, it saves us for serving the needs of others.

Reflected here is something that characterizes the Lutheran brand of Christianity. Those of us who undertook the “Lutheran Course Two” this past month – including our new members whom we receive formally this day – discovered this “two-handed” style of thinking that is prevalent not only in Lutheran theology but in our practice of faith. For example, one of Martin Luther’s famous sayings was that we are simultaneously saints and sinners.

Not either/or, this or that, black or white. But both/and.

Rather than pit a vacation apart from vocation, then, we would affirm that vocations can still be lived out during a vacation. Martin Luther was very clear to state that all people in society were members of the ‘spiritual’ class – not only bishops, pastors, and religious people. Even the most mundane of jobs can be living out our God-given vocation. It’s not so much what we do, but how we do it.

With what attitude and attention to others around us do we approach and do our jobs? Can we be on vacation and still exercise our vocation – when we spend time with our family and nurture our friendships and build healthy relationships reflecting the love and truth of God? On the other hand, can our vocations be fun, at times – as are vacations?

Yes, and Yes!

About raspberryman

I am a pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, serving a parish in Ottawa Ontario. I am a husband, father, and admirer of the Ottawa Valley. I enjoy beaches, sunsets and waterways. I like to write, reflect theologically and meditate in the Christian tradition.
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