1st Scripture Reading: Isaiah 49:1-7 & Psalm 40
I don’t know about you, but I never learned anything about “perspective-taking” in school. But perspective-taking is a big part of the Roots of Empathy program, which is mainly taught to kids in kindergarten! Children in this program are invited to put themselves in another’s shoes, to imagine how another child might feel, to try to see a bigger picture beyond their own tiny self-interest.
The psalmist says of God: “You lifted me out of the horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.” And, from the point of view of perspective-taking, God has made my vision so much more clear, my view of things unobstructed, by lifting me above the messiness of ordinary life. Think of the Philly Angel – up there on a cloud – seeing what the rest of us are up to!
The writer goes on to say: “But you have opened my ears to hear. And I said: ‘Here I am, ready to do what is written in the scroll of the book.’ I delight to do your will, O my God, your law is in my heart.”
With our feet stuck in the mud of everyday life, and darkness all around us, we can’t see the big picture, or hear God’s call to be an influencer, the action figure we are called to be as a servant of God.
For did not God tell the people, the people called to be servants of God: “I will give you as a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
In meditation or in prayer, we can climb up on the rock and there, clear of the noise of the multitude, we will be able to tune ourselves to hear the call of God, the call of Jesus, into discipleship.
Hymn # 161 MV “I have called you by your name”
2nd Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:1-9 & John 1:29-42
What exactly is “a disciple”? My dictionary says: “a pupil or adherent of a philosopher, leader or public teacher; one of the early followers of Christ.” Discipleship, then, is the discipline (the practice) of embodying the teachings one has been given. In other words, living the life in the manner that has been taught. A disciple of Jesus the Christ, then, is a Christian who is following the Way of Jesus.
In his first letter to the early Christians in Corinth, Paul gives thanks for these disciples, reminding them that as such they have been given all spiritual gifts that they require to do the work they have been called to do. Paul says: “God is faithful; by God you were called into the fellowship of God’s son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Following his teachings we are finally able to accept that we are the beloved of a loving God, and that our sins are completely washed away. We are loved unconditionally, and our sins – all of them – are forgiven.
Imagine a world where this is actually true! This is our sacred calling, people of God, disciples of Jesus the Christ – to imagine and then co-create with God this new world, this kin-dom of God on earth.
Do we all have the same calling? Not at all. We have all been given, or have developed different abilities or skill-sets. We are all situated differently in life: some within the wealthy elite, some in the slums of Manila. Some in intellectual, academic circles, some in politically active families. Some of us have pushed beyond the families of origin to go to university, to travel the world, to become social activists or missionaries. Some have become spiritual seekers or clerics.
But wherever we find ourselves, whenever we start to hear the voice of our calling, then that is where we will find our work for Christ, for God. It is all important. The whole cannot function properly without all of its parts – and we are all part of that “big picture” we have been talking about: the new song we are singing for a new world – creating it in the image of God’s great Love.
Hymn # 567 VU “Will you come and follow me”