Do you have a call?

How does one discern a call?

   One of the toughest challenges for me in following this path has been the inner conflict and turmoil in first recognizing I was being called to ministry, and then being willing to answer that call. How does one separate a passing fancy from a real call? 
   In the Episcopal Church there is a process for ordination that a person must work their way through. It is not a gauntlet, although it can seem that way at times! The process is structured to ensure that each person carefully considers the depth of their call and their commitment to following that call through whatever situation they encounter. While each Diocese has it's own process, they generally follow similar steps since the requirements are determined by Church law (Canon Law).
   The start of this process in my diocese is a meeting called "Day of Discovery", open to any church member who may be interested in exploring the three ordained ministries of the Church: Bishop, Priest, and Deacon. Participants are led through an explanation of these ministries and study each order's ordination vows.
   The "Day of Discovery" is NOT in any way a sales campaign to get people to sign up. For me I liked the way it was structured as an informational meeting (with some prayer, of course!) that gives a general overview of how the three orders work together to serve needs of God's people. Some who attended were just interested in understanding the differences in ministries. There was no future commitment involved, so I felt like I could participate without worrying about what others might think or being pressured into something I didn't want. Of the dozen people who attended the meeting that day, only two of us eventually proceeded on!
   At the end of the meeting those who were interested in further pursuing this idea of a "call" were given a booklet of daily reflections and questions. This is not a test that you turn back in, but a guide for your own use to explore over the course of a month the type of ministry that might appeal to you.
   The length of your "Discovery" process is up to you. Personally, I was very reluctant to follow this path. It is easy to be overwhelmed with feelings of unworthiness, and the idea that a person in ordained ministry should somehow be a "saintly" person. How could God be calling a person like myself with a past train-wreck of a life? The idea seemed ludicrous. It took me a long time to realize that God calls the broken because these are the people who already recognize their human frailty and God's infinite love for each of us.
   Doubtful of my call, I found the book "Listening Hearts" by Suzanne G. Farnham and Jospeph P. Gill (see Recommended Books) to be extremely useful in the inner exploration of this call. We tend to see our personal history as a uniform procession from point A to point Z, but this book helps you take the building blocks of your life's story and re-arrange them into a view from God's perspective.
   God sees the world, and people, differently than we see each other. Living in the Kingdom means changing your perspective to see the world through God's eyes. Blessings on your journey!!

Beginnings

A Journey of Faith and Inspiration: 

   Sometimes starting is the most difficult thing, but I have found over time that persevering towards a goal is the most challenging part of life. Taking that next step, and the next one, and the next one--and on and on... Finding the strength and inspiration to keep moving can lead eventually to a new life with unexpected possibilities.
   In April of 2014 I began a journey towards becoming a Deacon in the Episcopal Church. I still admit it--It's a crazy idea!!! Why would anyone in their mid-50's, within sight of retirement and relaxation, take up a journey requiring an extensive commitment of time and money that results in an unpaid position committing their service to others??
   The only answer I have is that I feel I'm being called by God to serve the world around me. It sounds quaint, doesn't it? Yes, it sounds crazy to me, too!
   As I start this blog I am at least a year away from ordination, and about to begin my final year of studies. So FULL DISCLOSURE: I AM NOT YET A DEACON! I can see a future, however, where I may be able to reach out to others through the medium of the web. Hence the early start on this page.
   I also realized that some may be interested in my process of becoming a deacon (or NOT becoming a deacon--whichever the case may be...)--Time, and perseverance, will tell.
   At best, perhaps a few people may be amused or inspired. At the least, perhaps I'll learn something about myself.
   In the end, there are only three things: Faith, Hope, and Love, and the greatest of these is Love.--Paul/Saul of Tarsus.
Peace!

Discerning Vocation

Discerning as a Deacon or Priest    I am often asked the question "Are you going on to become a priest? You'd be wonderful at th...