By Pastor Paula Burchill
Someone recently told me a story about attending a Catholic church in Hawaii. She said she couldn’t remember much about it, except that at the end of every service, if it was your birthday that week you were invited to come forward. The Priest then would pray a blessing on your life that was something like: Help this person to share with the world the part of God that only they are able to share.
I find that such a powerful blessing. It sounds like something Luther would say. Luther believed and preached that no matter who you are—what job you do, what age, gender, whoever you are, you are a minister. God is working through you to help the world. A pastor is no more important than a trash collector. All are God’s ministers. This is called Luther’s doctrine of vocation.
For some reason that blessing has made the importance of vocation come even more alive for me. I don’t know about you, but so often I think that if God is going to truly use me, I am going to need to work on me a little more. Surely, God needs someone better than a doubting, Netflix binge watcher who is in the car every night shuttling kids to the far corners of Kitsap County. Surely God needs someone who spends more time in prayer and meditation than I seem to be able to find time to do. Surely God has bigger plans for people who are more generous than me.
But that just isn’t true. And that blessing is a reminder that you, like me, have something unique and important that God needs. And you have it right now.
This week, I will be preaching on the story of the woman at the well from John 4. Here is a woman who had 5 husbands, was considered unclean because of where she was born—Samaria, not to mention she was a woman. And yet Jesus used her to convert her whole village. He saw something unique to her—something God had given only her—and he inspired her to share that part of her with others. She who used to have to hide by going to the well at noon, when no one else would have been there, bravely went to town to share her encounter with Jesus.
What does Jesus see in you? What does Jesus see in me? I often notice in my kids that the qualities they have that are the hardest for me to deal with are also their biggest strengths. Stubbornness comes to mind.
Maybe there is something about yourself you aren’t even all that wild about that God sees as unique and vital to God’s mission in the world.
This Lent, as we clear away some of the extra distractions, take a little time to think about what makes you YOU. And then know, believe, trust that that is the very thing God needs.
Maybe it is your listening ear, your attention to detail, your organization, your willingness to take risks or to dream big. Maybe it is your refusal to back down or your introverted personality.
I pray for all of you: God, help you to share with the world the part of God that only you are able to share. Amen.