A Thousand Little Callings

This article was written for the front page of this week’s bulletin.

Often, when I think of God calling a disciple to some particular task, I imagine a lot of fanfare. Moses had his burning bush, after all; Isaiah his temple vision; Mary her angelic visitation. It must be the case, then, that when God has a mission for us, he will announce it with the unmistakable drama we associate with divine interventions.

It’s no wonder that many of aren’t sure that God has called us to any particular work at all. Certainly the Lord hasn’t commissioned for anything really important, for if he had, wouldn’t we have remembered it? We hear all the time about how one person, inspired by some holy encounter, started a non-profit organization or planted a church or gave herself wholly to “Kingdom work.” And we figure that if God has a task for us, he will let us know with unmissable signs and wonders.

I wonder if this is Archippus’ problem. In the second to last verse of Colossians, Paul is sending his greetings and encouragements to the congregation, and he asks them to deliver a message to this guy Archippus: “See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.” Archippus apparently has some work to do, and while this work may not be so glamorous as to get a full write-up in the church newsletter, Paul wants him to know that whatever he is doing is important and from God. And Archippus needs to get to work.

We wait and wonder when we’ll be called, but kingdom life is often comprised of a thousand little callings, small and inauspicious invitations to participate with God in blessing our fellow human beings. Such invitations may take shape as a glorious epiphany, but I suspect that these are in the minority. Most callings appear quite dull. It could be someone asking for prayer. Or a mention of our homebound members that reminds you they’d maybe like a visit. Or perhaps something as mundane as a bulletin announcement: “Teachers Needed for August.”

To tell you the truth, I didn’t remember Archippus until this week. His was just one of the many names tacked to the end of Paul’s letter. But whatever his work was, whether it was gathering volunteers for communion or mowing some retirees’ lawns or writing a Sunday school curriculum, it mattered to the church in Colossae. It mattered to Paul. It mattered to the Kingdom of God, a Kingdom—remember—ruled by a King who touched sick people, taught kids, and scrubbed feat. You know, Kingdom work.