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Sunday, July 12, 2015

Today’s Reading | Acts 9:10–19a

Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” He answered, “Here I am, Lord.” The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength. (NRSV)

But . . .

I remember the first few conversations that I ever had when I was discerning whether to make the leap into seminary at McCormick Theological Seminary. I sat down with a pastor, and I explained that I felt called to ministry because thinking about the process of peoples’ individual access to God and their daily connection to God sometimes kept me up at night. I can’t say that I ever had a vision or have heard the voice of God. In that aspect, I can’t directly relate to Ananias or to Saul. But, there is one word in this scripture that resonates with me in my path to discerning my personal call to ministry. That word is but.

I told the pastor all the reasons that I felt called, and then I yawped a sincere and resounding “but . . .” I expressed that I could in no way be qualified to spread God’s word for God’s children because of X, Y, and Z reasons. The pastor expertly asserted, “Mark, do you think that you would be the first pastor to have ever X’d, Y’d, or Z’d in the history of pastoring? You are not, I assure you! X, Y, and Z may have, in some ways, been up to you, but your call to serve God isn’t. Get thee to seminary.” I am ever thankful for a God, a denomination, and a church that can hold our questioning. I am ever thankful for a God who reaches out to the entire spectrum of humanity in extending the call to serve.

Gracious God, may we remain open to your call in our own lives and to what you have in store for each and every one of us. Open our hearts and minds to your potential and possibility, both in others and in ourselves. Amen.

Written by Mark Eldred, Coordinator for Worship and Adult Education

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