22 June 2012

Discernment and Commissioning

dis-cern [dih-surn, -zurn]
verb (used with object)
  1. to perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; see, recognize or apprehend: They discerned a sail on the horizon.
  2. to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate: He is incapable of discerning right from wrong.
We spend a lot of time talking about discernment in the Young Adult Volunteer program. Discerning whether to spend a year in the program, whether to stay at home or abroad, which vocation will follow your YAV year... it's a word I have become a lot more familiar with since our placement weekend in March.

I was joking with a few members of my congregation that I've been successfully avoiding seminary since graduating with a religion minor 7 years ago. Since admitting this, I've been actively challenged in this avowal - multiple times - from several different places. I was discussing this with my friend, the recently Reverend Alex, and he pointed out that I'm not the only one who has felt like running in the opposite direction of a perceived call. What's up, Jonah?

com-mis-sion [kuh-mish-uhn]
verb (used with object)
  1. to give a commission to: to commission a graduate of a military academy.
  2. to authorize; send on a mission.
  3. to give the order that places a warship, military command, etc., in a state of complete readiness for active duty.
  4. to give a commission or order for: The owners commissioned a painting for the building's lobby.
Last night, Will (future Kenya YAV) and I were recognized at a special meeting of the Mid-Kentucky Presbytery. We were reminded that our commissioning was both a privilege and a responsibility to uphold with God's help. Among the vows that we pledged were a commitment to accepting the persons we serve where they are and just the way they are, to work in glad cooperation and mutual support with other workers, to demonstrate our love of Christ and commitment to our call.

As my time here is wrapping  up, the importance of this decision is becoming clear. Feeling literally carried in love as I begin this journey reminds me so much of my ordination as a ruling elder 3 years ago. I can still feel the waves of warmth and love from those in the congregation who laid hands on our class and prayed for our service. Since that day, I still can't hear the hymn, "Here I am Lord" without choking back a tear. I particularly like the revised version we sing at Second - rather than going if God leads us, we should be open to going where.
Here I am Lord, is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night
I will go Lord, where you lead me
I will hold your people in my heart.
Daniel L. Schutte (revision in italic)

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