Friday, June 16, 2017

The reformation, vocation, and hints of hope

I am still marveling my way through Tish Harrison Warren's lively little book 'Liturgy of the Ordinary: Sacred Practices in Everyday Life.' It continues to be good and I'm enjoying the read.

In chapter 7, entitled "Checking Email" she discusses an issue that has been at the top of my memory stack lately. I struggle with Christians who compartmentalize their faith. You know, they're super-duper-Jesus-y while at church or when talking about church, but they operate completely different at work and elsewhere. This is one of my struggles where I work and I haven't been able to put into words how I feel to the person I'm having this issue with. So it was interesting to me when I stumbled into this chapter.

I thought this ditty regarding the reformation especially insightful. I don't believe I've seen it put quite like this before. P.90...
"We often understand the Protestant Reformation as a conflict about doctrine. Justification. Grace versus works. Ecclesiology. Indulgences. And it was. But what captured the imagination of the commoners in Europe during the Reformation was not only the finer points of doctrine, but the earthy notion of vocation. The idea that all good work is holy work was revolutionary. The Reformation toppled a vocational hierarchy that had placed monks, nuns, and priests at the top and everyone else below. The Reformers taught that a farmer may worship God by being a good farmer and that a parent changing diapers could be as near to Jesus as the pope. This was scandal."

Over on p. 94 she then mixes in some thoughts from Peterson on vocational holiness and lays down these two tracks:
"We can't be holy in the abstract. Instead we become a holy blacksmith or a holy mother or a holy physician or a holy systems analyst. We seek God in and through our particular vocation and place in life.
"Our task is not to somehow inject God into our work but to join God in the work he is already doing in and through our vocational lives."


On the next page is this beautiful quip from Steven Garber (from his book 'Visions of Vocation' p. 189):
"In the daily rhythms for everyone everywhere, we live our lives in the marketplaces of this world: in homes and neighborhoods, in schools and on farms, in hospitals and businesses, and our vocations are bound up with the ordinary work that ordinary people do. We are not great shots across the bow of history; rather, by simple grace, we are hints of hope."

Wow! I love that last line:
"We are not great shots across the bow of history;
rather, by simple grace, we are hints of hope."

I will stop with one of the highlights the author brought out in the book:
"These are the small tasks in which we live out God's blessing and into which we are sent; we are blessed and sent into the real ways that we spend our hours."