We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, and we respect and honor with gratitude the land itself, the legacy of the ancestors, and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

God’s Calling to us – Discipleship Issues.

Photochromic photograph of fishermen in the Sea of ​​Galilee between 1890 and 1905

From the SALT blog.

1) How do we discern and follow God’s call? One fruitful way of receiving these stories is to think of them as opening up spaces for us to think and reflect:

Are there nets God is calling us to drop today, ways of life we are ready to “immediately” leave behind? Has the decisive, consequential moment arrived? Do we hear an invitation from Jesus to set out in a new direction, a path toward God’s Jubilee? Are we behaving like Jonah, either fleeing God’s call outright or reluctantly, half-heartedly straggling behind?

Perhaps the best thing we can do in order to discern our vocation or life purpose is to keep these questions warm and open, returning to them again and again. And perhaps the best way to do that is to intentionally form a small group (even as small as two or three) devoted to that task, providing both ongoing support and accountability.

2) It’s worth noting that Jesus doesn’t say, “Believe in this way of thinking, and follow me,” or “Sign on to this cause, and follow me.” He simply says, “Follow me.” The sheer minimalism of the invitation is startling — and worth thinking about. It may signal that, while intellectual and practical life do come into play in discipleship, they’re not really the heart of the matter; Jesus is the heart of the matter.

At the end of the day, being a Christian is about following Jesus, a living, breathing person — not a set of ideas, or rules, or ways of behaving. Thinking and acting are important, of course, but they evolve over time as we learn and grow. The constant in discipleship is the ongoing relationship with Jesus, the togetherness, the give-and-take, the struggle, and the openness to learning anew every day. Follow me. The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer emphasizes this aspect of Jesus’ call; for Bonhoeffer, the most striking thing about it is that it’s “void of all content.” There’s no program here, no plan, no persuasive set of promises. Only a call to companionship, to closeness, to living together along the Way.

3) God’s call manifests in a thousand different ways, and we respond in a thousand more, from courage to reluctance to hopping on the next ship out of town. But there’s at least one golden thread running through it all: God’s calling is frequently surprising and unpredictable, spilling over the edges of conventional wisdom in ways that are more than a little bit wild. Who is called? Not the supposedly brightest and best, but a half-hearted coward (Jonah), or the lowest ones on the ladder of social status. And to what end? So God might save our supposed enemies (Nineveh). So the world might turn upside down in a magnificent Jubilee. Or for no apparent reason at all (“Follow me”) apart from companionship itself, that mode of love that lives and walks together, calling and supporting each other as we go.