I left off yesterday talking about identity. Paul’s identity, how he sees himself in God’s plan. And Jesus’ identity, both with their roots in Judaism. The quote from Ephesians on my Home Page, I believe, is my favorite passage from Paul, and I go to it often as a reminder of my identity and my call. It represents, I believe, the sum total of everything Paul lived, preached and wished and prayed for us. The hidden self to grow strong so that Christ may live in our hearts…..
The forty days of Lent are meant to remind us of the forty years the people Israel journeyed through the wilderness to the land of the promise. That journey was one of identity. Becoming Israel, the people of God. Through that wilderness experience they came to know who they were, what it means to be in covenant with Yahweh, whose they were. It was not an easy journey. The Exodus has been called the formative journey of the Hebrew people. It was transformative for a nation.
When the gospel writers began to chronicle Jesus’ life, they wrote about Jesus also going off for forty days in the wilderness. He had just come out of the Jordan, the same river the Hebrew people would cross as they went into Canaan, into the Promised Land. Jesus too had temptations during those forty days. But I suspect that those three temptations, came under one heading: praying and pondering the work that was before him. The work he certainly must have believed he was sent by his Father to do. What some would call his vocation. Not vacation. Vocation. What we believe to be our call or calling from God.
Paul is asking his infant churches to live according to the call they have received. The call to have faith in Christ Jesus who died and rose again. And this call is to all. There are no distinctions for those baptized in Christ. In that famous passage in Galatians that there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female for now in baptism we are clothed in Christ. And it’s available to all.
By now you have probably discerned that I am a lay person. But I hesitate to use that term, for it implies a hierarchy, one I do not see Paul advancing and certainly that Jesus did not. Without going into a long treaties on what the various roles we each play in building the Body of Christ, which Paul too will address in his next letter, it is simply (!) this: We are all called. We are called into a life in Christ; we are called to be in a relationship with God. We are all called to search out the identity of our hidden selves so that Christ may live in our hearts through faith…so that we are filled with the utter fullness of God.
The theme of my earliest writing explores what it means to be human. Following closely the Joseph narrative we discover we are God’s design, and by God’s design we are both sacred and meant. Just as Paul will make the case to the new initiates who have faith in Christ, we are heirs to the promise made to Abraham, the promise kept in Jesus. Eventually the ongoing promise of creation extends to all, all the world as it was by God’s design from the beginning and that we are all called, with whatever talents and abilities, with whatever desires and interests, via whatever career/life choices we make to discover our identities, our hidden selves, and chart the course through the wilderness, however we see it, in Christ.