Well if yesterday was all about seeing Jesus, today was about the Call as we pretty much spent the whole day calling a Bishop.
We call it a Bishop’s Election but it’s a call process. In many ways it seems like a pretty crazy way to pick a leader. It starts out as a wide open process. On the first ballot you can write down the name of any ELCA ordained person you want. It’s easy to get flip about that but calling a bishop is serious business and has serious consequences.
I used to be annoyed by bishop candidates who insisted they didn’t really want to be bishop and were just responding to the call. But having seen what the bishop’s job entails up close, I can understand how anyone who knows what the job requires would be reluctant to take it on.
This was a new experience for me to personally know and feel close to someone in the actual process. An election is an excruciating process for the candidates and their loved ones.
And yet, it does require one to discern their call. We asked the candidates very good questions. It wouldn’t hurt any of us in church leadership to review our own calls in order to discern if we are still both gifted and willing to continue the work we are doing.
We ended the evening honoring the combined 105 years of ministry as Pastor Darrel Gerrietts marks 45 years, Bishop Steven Ullestad, 35 years and Pastor Mark Anderson 25 years of ordained ministry. We just could not get away from thinking about being called today.
In this morning’s opening worship, Pastor Gerrietts preached on the call of Abraham and asked us to consider what it means when God tells us to go.
Well God is telling us to go, whether it’s as bishops, pastors, congregation presidents, a farmer contemplating what it means to feed the world, or a mother raising her child to make a difference in the world.
We are all called to go. Go from the safe room we would rather hang out in, praying together with like-minded folk, out into the world to proclaim and live out God’s love and forgiveness.
You go where you don’t know what is going to happen and you don’t know if you will welcomed or appreciated, but you go anyway because God has sent you. You go because God is sending you, empowering and strengthening you for service and witness.
That’s what it means to be called.
Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA