A MESSAGE FROM THE RT. REV. L. ERROL BROOKS
DIOCESAN VOCATION WEEK, 2016
Today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter is also designated as Good Shepherd Sunday. This Sunday also marks the beginning of Diocesan Vocation Week in our diocese.
The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter are witness to the church’s conviction that the shepherd of Psalm 23 has become flesh in Jesus Christ, the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep (John 10: 11 - 16). Realising that Jesus is ‘good news of great joy for all the people’ (Luke 2:10) and realizing that Jesus Christ is Emmanuel, the church claims, confesses and sings the whole reality portrayed in Psalm 23. This psalm brings before us the faithfulness of the God we worship and serve. It reassures us of the continuing presence of God no matter what is happening in our bodies, our relationships, our community, or our world. Through it all, God and God alone is our true safety, our true shepherd.
This day, indeed this week, brings into focus the fact that as clergy we are “under shepherds” of the Good Shepherd. Like the Good Shepherd, we are called to care for those committed to our care, to help them to discern God’s voice and to heed that voice. We must pray earnestly for God’s grace to remain faithful to our calling.
Apart from this Sunday and this week, there are other occasions when the church specifically invites the faithful to pray for the clergy; for example, during the liturgy for the renewal of vows on Maundy Thursday. The congregation is admonished to “pray for your clergy and other ministers. Ask the Lord to bless them with the fullness of His love, to help them to be faithful ministers of Jesus Christ the High Priest, so that they will be able to lead you to Him, the foundation of your salvation.” (BCP page 420). Then there are the Ember Days. These are observed four times during the church’s year - the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after 13th
December, Ash Wednesday, Pentecost and Holy Cross Day (14th September) respectively. We pray for vocations to the Sacred Ministry, those in training (locally and in our Theological Colleges) and all who are involved in ministry.
This week provides another opportunity for all of us, old and young, to reflect on God’s call in our lives. God’s call comes to us in several ways - through varied experiences, through other people, in worship, in quiet moments. That call is always beckoning us to participate in what God is doing in the world - to be witnesses of God’s saving work in Christ, to bring hope to the hopeless - in short, to make a difference in our communities. Believe it or not, in spite of our short comings, God is depending on each of us, not just the ordained but each member to get involved in the work of restoring the whole creation. St. Augustine of Hippo puts it beautifully: “Without God we cannot, without us God will not”.
We thank God for those who have responded, in a positive way, to His call. I take this opportunity to remind our membership that ministry must not be restricted to the ordained. Ministry is for every member. The concept of TOTAL MINISTRY which connotes that everyone has a ministry to offer must be emphasized and acted upon. The church provides a host of ministries for us: Choir, Alter Serving, Ushering, Greeting, Lay Reading, the Reading of Lessons and Leading Intercessions, Stewardship Visitation, Bereavement Visitation, Teaching in Sunday School, Ministry in Youth Groups, Altar Guild, Floral Arranging, Church Cleaning, Custodian, Maintenance of Grounds, just to name a few. There is something for all of us to do as we seek to
glorify God in our generation. Here I am mindful of that passage in Ephesians 4: 11 - 12: “The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up the body of Christ.
Let us show our gratitude to God by accepting His call and sharing in
Ministry. Let us pray for all Christians in their vocation:
Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified: Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCP 201)