Answering the Call
Answering the Call
TEXT: Jeremiah 1: 4-10
Move 1: Introduction
Today we overhear a conversation between the Lord and the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah is receiving his call to speak out for God, but he is reluctant and anxious to go on the mission God has in mind for him. Listen for the Word of God in Jeremiah 1: 4-10.
“Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:4-10, NRSV)
Prayer for Enlightenment
The Priesthood of All Believers: We believe that every baptized Christian is given gifts for ministry by the Holy Spirit, and we believe that those gifts ought to be exercised, used, for the building up of the church. But I have never met anyone who has not had to struggle with God’s call in their lives.
Move 2: The Daunting Task of Ministry
Ministry, in all its many forms, is a daunting task. We know, almost instinctively, how very important it is to share the story of faith with others. But we worry that what we say or what we do may be misinterpreted, misunderstood. We may even doubt that we have the preparation and experience we need for ministry.
We each have been blessed by the ministry of someone of faith whom we look up to. Someone we want to be like. Someone we don’t want to let down. Maybe there have been several: a friend, a pastor, a teacher, a parent, or grand parent. I have said before how much the ministry of Carl Burkhardt meant to me growing up at Bethany Christian.
I remember his voice narrating the annual Easter pageant–deep, and strong. In the children’s choir I remember him praying with us before we sang in worship. And I remember him teaching us about the prayer garden and Rose Window in Vacation Bible School. When I began preparing for the ministry Rev. Burkhardt was on my mind. I wanted to be a pastor just like him.
Move 3: Arguing With God
We know how important it is to share our faith, faithfully. We have been blessed by others who have ministered to us, and we want to be like them in some way. So, when we hear God calling us into ministry we argue like Jeremiah did. “I am only a child in the faith compared to others. I don’t know what to say, what to do. I feel awkward and tongue tied when I speak about matters of faith–even my own faith.” We drag our feet when God calls us.
Move 4: God’s Response
But God says, “not so. I consecrated you for this work, even before you were born. My Spirit has given you all the gifts you need. Besides, I will be with you. I will be your mentor. I will show you where to go, what to do, I will give you the words you need.”
What better teacher could we have. Will we make mistakes? Of course we will. We are human, after all. But the Lord who promises to be with us will redeem every situation. All we have to do is allow ourselves and our gifts to be used.
Move 5: Laity Sunday
Today is Laity Sunday. We believe that every baptized Christian is given gifts for ministry by the Holy Spirit, and we believe that those gifts ought to be exercised, used, for the building up of the church. What are your gifts for ministry? What is God calling you to do?
When you are finished arguing with yourself and with God, he’ll still be waiting. A call is a lot like a covenant–God doesn’t give up on either one of them.