Maggie Falenschek, Saint Peter, MN

Warm-up Question

  • What are two or three things you are really good at?
  • Describe your personality: Are you funny? Kind? Compassionate? Assertive? Quiet? If you’re having trouble thinking of this on your own, ask a family member or a friend to help describe you!
  • What is an issue of injustice that you are passionate about?

Sacred Vocations

Have you ever heard the word vocation before? Sometimes when we hear this word we think of someone’s particular job or career, but it’s really much bigger than that! Sometimes it helps to think about vocation as your unique calling. God has created each of us with strengths and gifts— things that we are good at.  In the same way, we each have different things we are passionate or care deeply about. Maybe it’s an issue of injustice that you see in your community. Perhaps it is something that you just love to do! When we combine our gifts and skills with the things we are passionate about, we may find our calling, our vocation. 

We each have multiple vocations. We have vocations in our families: to be a child, parent, family friend, or guardian. In our daily lives we might have a have vocation to be a student, scientist, athlete, or grounds keeper. These vocations may change throughout our lives, but all Christians share a special baptismal vocation to use our gifts and passions in service to our neighbor and world. When we live into our vocations, we receive a greater sense of meaning and purpose for our lives. 

Discussion Questions

  • What gives you a sense of meaning and purpose?
  • Think back to our warm-up discussion. How can you combine the things that you’re passionate about with your gifts and skills in order serve your neighbor?

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 4:5-12

1 John 3:16-24

John 10:11-18

(Text links are to Oremus Bible Browser. Oremus Bible Browser is not affiliated with or supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. You can find the calendar of readings for Year B at Lectionary Readings.)

For lectionary humor and insight, check the weekly comic Agnus Day.

Gospel Reflection

Like us, Jesus had many vocations. He was a son, friend, and teacher. Jesus used the gifts of God and the movement of the Holy Spirit in his life for the betterment of the world.  He brought those cast aside into community, healed the sick and hurt, and, ultimately, brought new life from death. 

In our gospel reading for today, we hear about Jesus’ vocation as the Good Shepherd. There are things that any “good” shepherd does: tending to the sheep, keeping them safe from danger, bringing them to better pastures to eat.  But this story speaks of Jesus as a shepherd who does more than just care for his flock’s basic needs. Jesus knows each of his flock by name; he seeks out those on the margins of the pasture and brings them back. Jesus lays down his life, risking everything for his flock. Even a “good” shepherd wouldn’t take that risk, but Jesus did. God did.

Jesus’ vocation as the Good Shepherd helps us to better understand God’s deep love and care for us, God’s flock. Through Jesus, God went through the depths of human life for us. Through Jesus, God was vulnerable. Because the thought of even one beloved child being lost or alone was too much to bear, God risked everything so that we experience healing, togetherness, and new life. God loves us too much to leave us behind.

It is sometimes intimidating to think of our vocation, or calling, as followers of Jesus.  The invitation to care for our hurting world is overwhelming and we may feel utterly un-equipped to do so. There will be times when we surely do not live up to this vocation or the other callings in our lives. We may stumble, feel lost, or fail. But remember this: There is no failure, mistake, hurt, regret, or burden which can ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus, our Good Shepherd. 

Discussion Questions

  • Can you think of other stories or words that describe Jesus’ vocation?
  • How do you react when you feel intimidated or overwhelmed? How can Jesus shepherd you through those times? 
  • Divide a sheet of paper down the middle. On one side, list all of your strengths, skills, gifts, and resources. On the other side, list needs you see in your church or community. Is there a way that your skills, passions, and resources could meet a need in your community?

Activity Suggestions

  • Listen to the song “You Were Born” by Cloud Cult. Print out the lyrics and highlight the lines that stick out to you or connect to what you’ve learned about vocation.
  • Take the Via Character Strengths survey online. Did any of the strengths in your report surprise you? How do they fit into your vocations?
  • Read through the Holy Baptism (page 227) or Affirmation of Baptism (page 234) liturgies in Evangelical Lutheran Worship. Circle all of the parts that are vocations or callings for us as followers of Jesus. 

Closing Prayer

God, you call us into many sacred vocations. Guide us as we use our gifts and skills to make our community and world a more kind, just, and loving place. When we get overwhelmed or feel intimidated by this great call, remind us that you are our Good Shepherd and that there is nothing that could separate us from your love. Amen.