I have been reading on in Henri Nouwen's Clowning in Rome and was struck by some interesting thoughts around how we respond to God's call. Nouwen suggests - and I agree - that we have a tendency to individualise it. We all have our own particular calling, our unique role in God's great scheme of things - and so we do. There are things that are specially for each one of us and many of us carry out part of our mission as we engage in all sorts of opportunities that are there in the community. In my last post we had a special service to celebrate all the things that different people did - and I have heard of others holding similar services. It is valuable to recognise the breadth of mission in which members of a particular community are involved through the range of things that different people do.
But what is our common calling? Of course, God calls us to individual responses, but surely there is also a communal aspect. Nouwen suggests that: "our own individual vocation can only be seen as a particular manifestation of the vocation of the community to which we belong."
We need all the different bits of the body - but the body needs to remain as a whole. Nouwen goes on to suggest that our deep love and commitment should "lead us constantly to consider how our ministry can be an expression of the ministry to which we are called together."