God doesn’t only call heroes

January 20, 2012

One more bloggish thought before I get back to writing, or thinking about writing, my sermon. I read this profoundly good blog post over on Rachel Held Evans’s blog (written by guest blogger Margot Starbuck—what an awesome name! Is that real?). Starbuck describes a few heroic friends and/or saints who have dedicated a large portion of their lives to serving the poor. They are, as you’ll see from the following excerpt, unlike her (bolded words are from the original post).

I hope you see how terribly convenient all of this is for me. If “loving the poor” is something that only red-caped superheroes do—because they’re retired, or because they’re young and single and kid-free, or because they get paid a teeny tiny salary to do it—then I’m off the hook.  (Because I’m unprofessional, old, married, mothering and decidedly not retired, that’s why.)  If I make engaging with a world in need a really big thing, then it’s kind of like I’m no longer responsible for it.  Which really works for me.

On the other hand, if engaging with a world in need were to be a very small thing—like learning more about the bagboy who tirelessly bags my groceries every week, or shamelessly begging for a baby shower invite to celebrate my favorite waitress at my favorite restaurant, or stopping to help the teen whose car is broken down by the side of the road—then I’d become responsible for it.

My main reason for reflecting on it here is because I see a connection to this Sunday’s scripture and sermon. I’m sure that my sermon will include words about “answering God’s call,” just as Gideon answered the call. As a recently ordained pastor, I’ve been forced to think and write a lot about answering God’s call. The United Methodist Church is intensely interested in the subject when it evaluates candidates for ordination.

But the church also believes that everyone is called by God to Christian service, whether we’re clergy or laypeople. Answering God’s call, therefore, isn’t just for the chosen few. God doesn’t simply call big and important people to do big and important things. If that were so—as Starbuck says—that would be very convenient for most of us. Most of us would be off the hook. As she writes, “If I make engaging with a world in need a really big thing, then it’s kind of like I’m no longer responsible for it.  Which really works for me.”

This Sunday’s scripture doesn’t necessarily prove her point. God did call Gideon to do big things. But as I’ll make clear on Sunday, it certainly wasn’t because he had any special qualifications, talent, or aptitude for the job. He was no conventional hero. In fact, he was kind of a dork.

That should serve as some encouragement, I hope.

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