Living Into Our Calling

What is God’s calling on my life? How do I connect with, live into, and live out of that calling? When does the calling become more than a career choice or something I know how to do, and instead become an authentic expression of who God wants me to be in the world? These are the questions tugging at my spirit as we begin 2024. This is not a resolution, goal, or commitment. These are questions that pull at the authentic person God is calling for and calling me to become.

I’m committed to asking questions in 2024. In the book, A Life of Meaning: Relocating Your Center of Spiritual Gravity, James Hollis writes, “I believe large questions get us a larger life, a life that takes us to places that engage the mind, spirit, and soul.” A life of questions is for pastors and ruling elders. It is for chaplains and seminary professors. John Calvin taught that we all have a calling and vocation from God, so a life of questions is for everyone.

I was moved by the Gospel stories of Simeon and Anna from the lectionary this past Sunday. In Luke 2:25–38, both Simeon and Anna demonstrate patience as they wait for God’s revelation. In waiting for the presence of the Christ child, they show what calling looks like in flesh and blood. Hollis writes: “Our calling often requires commitment, discipline, courage, consistency, and persistence. It’s not about comfort, fitting in or being normal at all.”

Jesus Christ brings the church into existence. The church is called by God to live out God’s will and purpose in community and in the world, and it isn’t easy. It’s not about comfort, fitting in, or being normal. And we can be a church full of joy, fun, and laughter too! Perhaps playfulness and not taking ourselves too seriously is also part of the spiritual alchemy of a healthy congregation.

The political and social crosswinds of 2024 will require a called church filled with called people. I look forward to walking with you as we journey together in God’s call for us individually, our congregations, and the Presbytery of Chicago.

—Rev. Dr. Craig Howard