Saturday, May 3, 2008

Call and cure

Lately I've been mulling the difference between call and cure. In the church, we speak of being called by God to ministry. That is true for all people of faith, regardless of whether you are ordained or not. When you are ordained, we speak of being called to a particular congregation to be a priest or pastor. But what happens when this call to serve a particular congregation goes away? What does it mean? This is where I am right now.

With the help of friends, I've come to realize that the Call (that "capital C" Call) is bigger than any one congregation's circumstances. Speaking of being called to a congregation can certainly muddy the waters of definition. Call is bigger than any one community or circumstance. I worked a Cursillo weekend (Maryland 95) last weekend. It was just what I needed to get this question straightened out in my heart and mind. It was clear that my Call to be a priest was still there and strong as ever. My call to Gathered by Christ has finished - but that is only a part of my Call.

One of our fellow spiritual advisers last weekend was the Rev. Eddie Blue from Holy Trinity in Baltimore. It's been a great blessing to get to know Eddie+ through the teaming process and we found ourselves cutting up quite a bit ... nothing like a little clerical stream of semi-consciousness humor to keep things interesting. When I said to Eddie+ that I was "losing my call" to this congregation, he replied, "You haven't lost your call, you've lost your cure." Hmmm ... hadn't thought about it that way.

Webster's dictionary defines cure as a noun in three basic ways:
  1. A remedy, healing
  2. A means to preserve meat
  3. A spiritual or religious charge of the people
I don't think "door number 2" applies here ... but maybe one of my readers will find an interesting way to do so (never underestimate the creativity of the blogosphere!). Definitions one and three have some traction though. Three describes the call to a congregation as a cure. That's the "little c" call. It's a call for a reason and a season. Some cures are long term ... others quite short. I was called to take spiritual charge of the people at Gathered by Christ for the purpose of doing whatever God wanted me to do there for God's glory. It turned out that what God wanted was definition number 1 - a healing.

Today, I returned from Diocesan Convention. This is my last official act as Vicar of Gathered by Christ. I distributed all the letters of transfer this past week to the remaining few members. The last one went to our delegate to convention ... he couldn't leave until after he finished his duties!

So I've completed my work there. Now to write the resignation letter to my bishop to make it all official. It was a cure from God ... in more ways than one.


Emerson said...

Door # 2 -- "A means to preserve meat." Hmmm... In thinking in terms of the rest of your post, this definition isn't as far off as one might think. One thing that comes to mind is that, while our flesh and blood, -- our physical "meat" -- isn't preserved, our spiritual "meat" -- our souls -- are preserved by our faith and belief in Christ Jesus. Your part in that is in helping us to strengthen our faith and belief.

Virtual Vicar said...

Go Emerson! I knew someone would rise above my limited vision of Smithfield hams. :-D