The more I read and think about Sunday’s Gospel lesson, the more I think that it shouldn’t be preached by a member of the clergy. Here’s why. The ordination process is riddled with opportunities to tell one’s faith story. I mean, ad nauseum. Whether you were born and raised in The Episcopal Church or picked up out the gutter by a Bishop on her way to a visitation, the details of how you ended up felling called to ordained ministry are read, marked, learned, and inwardly digested by Rectors, Vestries, Discernment Committees, Bishop’s Commissions on Ministry, Standing Committees, Seminary Admissions Officers, Classmates, family, friends, and at some point, even the family pet. As a result of the at process (that can last upwards of 5 years or more), clergy are programmed to hear the phrase “call story” and immediately think, “ordination.”
Which is, of course, a load of crap.
The truth of the matter is that each of us has been called to be a disciple in our own unique way. In Matthew’s Gospel, while speaking to fishermen-come-apostles, Jesus calls them to be “fishers of men” (sorry for the gender specificity, it just sounds better in this case). In speaking to lawyers-come-disciples, Jesus calls them to be lawyers for the Kingdom. The same is true for doctors, teachers, candlestick makers, home economists, letter carriers, engineers, entertainers, small business owners, retirees, students – you name it. Which is why, I think that this lesson shouldn’t be preached by clergy. It should be preached by lay leaders who have figured out how their call to be a disciple impacts their everyday lives: at home, work, school, or play.
At the very least, I hope that the ordained preachers out there can figure out a way to open this story up to the widest possible interpretation, rather than taking the chance to, once again, rehearse their own call story on yet another set of ears.