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Our Vocation – A Reflection

May 6, 2021
The East Abbey Gate Ruins – Bury St Edmunds, England

Thirty-five years ago this month, I graduated from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities (UTS) with a Master of Divinity degree. Fifteen months later I began my first call as a Presbyterian Church (USA) Minister of the Word and Sacrament. Two friends and classmates of mine from UTS will retire in October from active ministry after a combined sixty-years of ministry (thirty years each). That announcement made me pause and reflect on my own years of ministry. This past Sunday I was installed as the Designated Pastor of Carrollton Presbyterian Church in Carrollton, Georgia having already been serving here for nine months. This is my third call following my retirement from the USAF after 21 years of service. When I think about where God has led me over these past 35 years I am amazed. The picture above is from Bury St Edmunds in England which was near my duty station, RAF Mildenhall where I was the Wing Chaplain (senior ranking chaplain on the base and on the Commander’s staff). It was a challenging and incredibly rewarding assignment.

I continue to be surprised, challenged, and encouraged as I seek to live out my vocation now as I was when I began my first call in two, small, rural churches in West Central Minnesota in 1987. I have learned a lot about leadership from a military perspective, and more importantly, from a servant-leader perspective as I continue to respond to God’s call in my life. I know that I am older (trust me, my body with its aches and pains reminds me each day that I am not the young chaplain that I was years ago), but thanks to the Spirit’s continued presence and leading, hopefully I am also wiser than that young chaplain!

Today I found myself reading and reflecting on Thomas Merton’s thoughts about vocation in his book, No Man Is an Island. Reflecting on his own calling and vocation as a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Our Lady of Gethsemani outside of Louisville, Kentucky, Merton wrote the following about his own call.

Each one of us has some kind of vocation. We are all called by God to share in His life and in His kingdom. Each one of us is called to a special place in the Kingdom. If we find that place we will be happy. If we do not find it, we can never be completely happy. For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be. (p. 131)

My prayer for each of you, dear readers, is that you hear and respond to that call of God in your own life. She will guide you in discerning and following that call just as She guided my mentor and brother Thomas Merton. In that calling, whatever it may be (our calling is as unique and as individual as each one of us is as a child created in the image of God), may you find contentment, joy, and happiness.

  1. Reblogged this on Anniegoose's Blog and commented:
    Reading this blog provides me with soothing solace.

  2. pynkoski2 permalink

    Michael, I am so pleased to see you writing more frequently, and writing on things of importance to you. Keep it up.

    • Thank you for your encouragement and support, Paul. It is good to do more writing that is from my heart.

  3. Dita permalink

    Truly appreciate your reflections. Thank you for giving me pause and reflecting upon my own life.

  4. I am fast approaching my retirement from full time appointment as a United Methodist after 41 years of serving. It is a strange new world of continued calling that I am entering. My vocation does not cease with this event. I thank you for this reflection.

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