This past Sunday during worship at the Chapel of the Resurrection, we were blessed to welcome and install Dr. Sunghee Kim as the Director of Chapel Music. Dr. Lorraine Brugh is currently in Cambridge, overseeing the Valpo study abroad program there, and in her absence, Dr. Kim has joined the Music Department faculty and the staff of the Chapel of the Resurrection. We are privileged to have Dr. Kim among us. If you have not had a chance yet to hear her play the organ, you are in for a treat.
Within the Lutheran tradition, we believe that we do not end up by accident in the various places in which we live out our gifts and talents. We believe that God works in our lives, God works through circumstances, and God works through other people to lead us to the places that God would have us serve. That is why you will often hear us Lutheran types talk about “God’s call.” God calls us, we believe, to the places and into the circumstances through which we get to love and serve God by loving and serving one another. We are grateful that God has called Dr. Kim to live and serve among and with us.
It is good and right to note, however, that such “calls” are not reserved for pastors or other leaders in the Church, nor are they just about jobs. We believe that God’s call comes to all of us, for any good and worthy profession, and for the relationships, times, and circumstances of our lives. Teachers, doctors, custodians, plumbers, police officers, cooks, scientists, artists — the list is endless. God calls us, we believe to use the gifts that we have been given to bring glory to God, and for the sake of the world.
It is for this reason that we pause sometimes at new beginnings to recognize the call of God on someone’s life. We did this on Sunday with Dr. Kim. When such moments of pause occur within the context of worship, we call the rite for such a pause “an installation.” I have always thought that it was a rather strange word to use for such an occasion, as it brings to mind the “installation” of cable service or household appliances. But perhaps that is all well and good: it is a common, ordinary word, marking that everything is now in working order and ready to go.
During the Rite of Installation, the person who is being installed is asked several questions about how they will serve, to which the response is “I will, and I ask God to help me.” The gathered people of God are also asked questions about supporting the call of this new person among us, and together we respond, “We will, and we ask God to help us.” It is a reminder that we are all in this together. The work of God belongs to all of us, we need each other, and we get to support one another as we seek to be faithful to what God wants us to do.
There is another line, however, in the Rite of Installation that always stands out to me. To the person being installed, these words of blessing are spoken: “Almighty God who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them.” Wow! What words of comfort, encouragement, and empowerment. God will help me do what God has called me to do.
While these words are certainly appropriate for a formal Rite of Installation within a worship service, I think they can speak well beyond that context.
What are you called to do today — large or small? What are you called to do in your relationships – with family members, colleagues, friends, peers? What tasks lie before you this day that excite you, and what tasks are on your plate which cause you some apprehension?
What if you step back and consider that God has called you to this time and place? God has called you to the relationships that you currently have. God has called you to the tasks that are before you.
And then why not hear the words of blessing from the Rite of Installation, spoken to you for this time and place, those relationships, and those tasks. “Almighty God who has given you the will to do these things, graciously give you the strength and compassion to perform them.”
Better yet, shift them to the first person and turn them into a prayer. Then print them off and put them on your computer. Send them to yourself as a note for your phone, or commit them to memory. Let them rise from your heart as you face the many and various tasks to which you are called.
Almighty God who has given me the will to do these things, graciously give me the strength and compassion to perform them.
Sept. 13, 2017
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Dr. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.