The church’s vitality and health depends on people of all ages hearing and responding to God’s call.
Yes! God calls people. Jesus said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last.” (John 15.16)
What is God calling you to be and to do? Is God calling you to ordained ministry?
For many people the call to ordination begins when they are quite young. For others involvement in lay ministry is an important precursor to sensing a call to ordination.
September this year is ‘Vocations Month’. I encourage all of God’s people to discern who among you might be called to be ordained, to serve as leaders and shepherds.
During September please reflect deeply with others in your faith community on what vocation means for people of all ages. Hearing and responding to God’s call, how might you and others contribute to the kingdom of God, serving the church and the wider community in Christ’s name?
The need for people to offer themselves for ordained ministry is ever present. Jesus also said, “The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9. 37-38).
In many places church life is sustained by the dedication of lay people and the faithful ministry of retired clergy. More clergy are needed and long gaps between one priest and a successor are not healthy for parish life. Please pray that God will raise up people to serve.
Of course ordained ministry extends beyond parishes. There is great diversity. Some serve by offering pastoral care in hospitals and other care facilities. Others serve in prisons or as police chaplains or in the defence force. Yet others minister in schools, universities and colleges. Our work among young people and with the aged is also vital. Clergy and lay people together serve in all these places and ways, some in paid capacities, others as volunteers.
With these many and various ministries in mind, I invite you to use the following prayer throughout September. I also encourage you to nominate those whom you feel should be invited to our Seekers Day Conference on Saturday 21 September, where they can be encouraged to explore their vocation more deeply.
Please raise up women and men
to serve as pastors and teachers in your church.
Through your Spirit, give us wisdom and discernment
to recognise whom you are calling to ordained ministry;
and courage to invite people to consider their vocations;
through Jesus Christ, the great shepherd and teacher of us all.
In addition you might also offer this personal prayer:
Loving, liberating, and life-giving God,
thank you for the joy of knowing that you love me
no matter where I’ve been, or what I’ve done.
I offer my life to you, and ask for the guidance of your Spirit
that I may use the gifts and abilities you’ve given,
to serve in the ministry and mission of your Church.
I pray in the name of the one who calls me
to follow each day, Jesus the Christ. Amen
Yours in Christ,
Archbishop Phillip Aspinall