Holy as the day is spent

This post is essentially an invitation to Mike Mather to comment.

Mike is pastor at Broadway United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, where he spends a great deal of his energy trying to devise ways to name and proclaim the work of God in the lives of the people in his neighborhood and congregation. A year or so ago, he shared with me the book he wrote about his approach to ministry.

And today, while reading my morning scripture, I thought of him when I read this passage from Exodus 31:

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts. Moreover, I have appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamak, of the tribe of Dan, to help him. Also I have given ability to all the skilled workers to make everything I have commanded you:

The skills and work of these men is itself a gift of God. Their vocation is in working with metal and stone and wood. Every worker has been given his or her ability from God, which means our ordinary work is itself a means of glorifying God.

Or that is the thought that Mike and Exodus put in my head this morning.

(The title for this post comes from one of my wife’s favorite Carrie Newcomer songs.)

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2 thoughts on “Holy as the day is spent

  1. Hi John – I’m not sure what more I would have to “comment” about your piece. I really like the Carrie Newcomer song you referenced. But here is what this makes me think of – I’ve been reading a book by Kathleen Cahalan entitled “Introducing the Practice of Ministry.” Dr. Cahalan is a Catholic lay person and professor of theology at St. John’s University School of Theology. She has made the argument that we too often talk about the work of laity as “ministry” and that this misses the beauty and glory of the varieties of vocations that there are – that it elevates professional ministry above other vocations (such as working with metal and stone and wood). This has been a helpful thing to me as I think about how we celebrate the ways in which the people of our parishes live out their faith through work, home, and community. The text from Exodus you cite is a challenging example of holding up before the community of faith work that is not often seen as holy – or at least as an opportunity for God’s glory to be revealed. Dorothee Soelle wrote years ago about the sacredness of work. Wendell Berry writes this about farming and husbandry. It makes me wonder about what it would look like — when congregations gather for worship – and when the annual conference gathers every year – if we celebrated the work of the people of God. What if as well as celebrating the clergy who are retiring – we celebrated the school teachers, the farmers, the engineers, the lawyers who were retiring? What if while celebrating the “ministry” of the laity in VBS and in mission trips and in tutoring – we also celebrated those who are good neighbors – those who through the way in which they do their work – are acting with faith in the glory and salvation of God – in state agencies, and schools, and computer tech rooms, and on stage (among thousands of other places)?

    1. Thanks, Mike. I knew you would have some thoughts on this topic.

      What I appreciate about your focus on these questions is that I’ve seen in my own brain how easy it is to view vocation through the lens of full-time, paid vocation when you are a pastor. (Seminary professors do this, too, I think.) Even though I was 40 before I started serving a church, it is easy to slip into the notion that all the God work happens in and through the church, even thought that idea is clearly false.

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