“What keeps you up at night?” Besides sick kids, night sweats, indigestion, or general anxiety. Daniel Harris was talking about something else. Identifying your passion, your calling. Daniel stood out among the many brilliant speakers at the Chicago Christian Community Development Assoc. Conference; we strained to understand his words as the sole spokesperson with visible disabilities. But his message continues to echo in my head when I lie awake.
At 45, I am just beginning to live into my present calling. Meanwhile, I know this language can paralyze young adults particularly, as people pressure them to identify their passion and profession. So I hesitate. Like the unfathomable diversity of creation, our faith journeys are different too; I am not prescribing, just sharing.
I am sometimes uncomfortable in my new role. Ill-equipped, unprepared, unqualified. Those whispers- to me, to any of us- are sometimes louder than the still, small voice of our God. The task is daunting. But the instruction to me, individually, is clear:
The master said to the servant, “Go to the highways and back alleys and urge people to come in so that my house will be filled.” Luke 14:23 (CEB)
Compel them, King James Version says. Not the invited guests too busy acquiring property to sit and be served. But the poor, maimed, blind, and lame. Those on the streets and skulking in the back alleys. I wish I had access to share the SSV translation, Pastah J’s straight street version of the story!
What does my role of carrying out this instruction look like in a time when people of all ages are leaving the church, or never grew up there in the first place? What is New Covenant’s calling? Perhaps to urge folks to use our building to serve people a feast by hosting the Greater Community AIDS Project office and food pantry and the CU Trauma and Resiliency Healing Solutions Trainings.
But it is also confirmation of a calling that feels a little odd in this day and age. I am passionate about people being in church. For whatever reason will compel them to come in and fill up the house. Because those are my instructions, and feeling weird about it would be waste of time.
What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, the Messiah is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice. Phil. 1:18
By me and others. At NCF. In other churches on other streets. By people with whom I do not agree, whose motives seem to undermine the very message of the gospel. Filling up the house for the feast is my passion. NCF is my calling. In this I rejoice. Because this is what brings me joy. For real. Today. and Tomorrow.