In a previous post I explained that I’m struggling with how to articulate God’s presence in the daily grind for a presention I’m offering this Sunday. To help me with this question, I gathered lots of books from my wife’s library, went online, and even scoured Luther’s Work on CD-ROM for references to vocation, baptism, work, etc.. I read some chapters from various books, paged through other books, and scanned several indexes and chapter headings for anything that might look helpful.
But the book that most directly spoke to my question and crystalized my understanding of how we experience God from Sunday to everyday is a little book called, Listen! God is Calling! Luther Speaks of Vocation, Faith, and Work by D. Michael Bennethum, a Lutheran pastor from the Reading, PA area. Wengert, Braaten, Jensen, Foerde, Gritsch – these great Lutheran minds are brilliant and they ask and answer some amazing questions. But I was slightly surprised that the answer to my question didn’t come from these pillars of Lutheran academia, but rather in a simple little book (only 95 pages!) written by a pastor for a lay audience. This just goes to show you that in the least expected of places we can find something truely marvellous . . .
Perhaps tomorrow or Sunday I’ll post some sort of summary of my presentation, but the jist goes something like this: An unnatural and unholy split has taken place, placing church professions higher than other professions in the spiritual pecking order. From milking cows to flipping burgers to managing banks to teaching in a public school to running a bookstore, even mundane or seemingly non-religious work are callings from God to serve neighbor and contribute to society. God values these tasks just as much as God values the task of the preacher, social worker, the teacher (so-called "helping professions"). No hierarchy of work exists – outside of the criteria that one’s daily work not harm ones neighbor or serve to the detriment of society (a can of worms best left to another discussion).
It seems to me that a task of our churches is to help our members see their daily work as God-given and as a venue for faith-activity, to help them find meaning in daily lives through faith. (The question of unfulfilling, demeaning, or underpaid work is a different issue – one of justice. In that case, the church encourages members to struggle for justice with the strength and confidence of faith. More later.)
Gosh, it is getting late. I’ll get back to this soon. Good night!