Epiphany 2 :: The Call

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Market Day

The opening scene of the film Godspell is a modern-day take on God’s call to each of us in the midst of our daily lives. A hippie John the Baptist blows an ancient shofar—ram’s horn—on the streets of a big modern city [New York, actually]. In the hubbub and din of the streets, people are awaken from the day-to-day dreariness of life by the piercing tones of the horn: street vendor, office clerk, sales rep, student, etc. Following the sound of the ram’s horn, each makes her or his way to a park where others are dancing and singing. The ordinariness of life has been shed. Behold, a new life is begun!

John the Evangelist paints a similar calling—one which Jesus initiates and which is shared by others. First come Peter, Andrew, and Philip, and then the call is extended, friend to friend, to Nathanael and all the others. Each person is called individually out of his or her own daily life to share in something new and different, creating an entirely new community in the process. 

Two characteristics about the call of God to individuals throughout the whole of human history have remained constant. The first is that individuals are called from within the context of ordinary daily life. Abram heard God’s voice in the midst of tending his flocks. Samuel was called while tending to the service of the Temple as a small boy. The prophet Amos tells us he was just a “dresser of sycamores” when God came to him. God spoke to Mary, an otherwise insignificant young girl from a small village. Peter, Andrew, James, John, and many of the first disciples were average fishermen eking out a living along the shores of Galilee. All these disciples were just ordinary men and women. There really was nothing outstanding about any of them.

The second characteristic about God’s call is that, though given specifically to individuals, it is a call into community. From the obvious [Abram is called to be the father of a new community] to the sublime [Amos and all the other prophets were called to bring a people back into the community of God], each call is one that can only fully be lived out and experienced in the context of this new community. From the ordinariness of life, God reaches out to each of us in order to form us into a new community whose focus is the doing of God’s will: giving sight to the blind, strength to the weak, hope to the poor, release for the captive, and justice and mercy for all.

Thanks be to God!

Link to RCL Lectionary for Epiphany 2, Year B

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