Today our reading for Morning Prayer was from the Gospel of John. The reading focused on Jesus questioning those who were going to stone him. As the reading goes on Jesus points out that he has only done what God sent him to do. This reading has always struck me because of it’s poignant truth: Jesus was killed for doing what he was sent to do. Some might even argue that Jesus was killed because the scriptures foretold the event. In the Hebrew Scriptures we hear again and again of the messiah who will die. I found this an apt reading for Sept. 11th. On this anniversary of the terrible attacks in 2001 I go back to the theodicy question again and again.
I did not plan anything in advance of Morning Prayer today; but I was grateful to the Holy Spirit that the reading of the day so adequately spoke to my heart’s meditations. On Sept. 11, 2001 I went to class at Wheelock College. After class I was heading back to my dorm when two of the theatre employees told me to go turn on the television because something terrible had happened. My dorm room was directly across the hall from a girl whose father was a NYC fire fighter. She watched in horror as the events unfolded. I can remember thinking that those brave men and women ran into the buildings because it was their job: it was what they were called to do.
As I meditated, out loud with the 7 folks who came to Morning Prayer today, I found myself connecting the plight of the rescue personnel in New York on that crisp September morning to that of our Savior who died for us.
We all have a calling to answer. For some of us that calling will lead us into dark and painful places. For some of us, our calling will lead us to death. So where, one of the people in chapel contemplated, was God on that morning or in those terrifying moments in our lives?
We discussed the presence of evil in the world. We considered the important work of groups like the Daughters of Abraham who work on Muslim, Christian, and Jewish relations. We thought about the reality that our choice in this life is to follow our calling from God or to say no to God. And we asked ourselves, is it really a choice when the only options we have at the end of the day are to say yes or no to God?
|My ordination stole made by my grandma’s
amazing friend. These crosses hide on the
bottom, inside, corner.
It was a holy morning. When I woke up today I did not remember the date. I watched a few minutes of the daily news on which they were interviewing an actor about his new sitcom starting tonight. I came to work and opened the lectionary. I selected the reading for the day. Then I noticed the date. This date will never be “normal” again. It will always cause me to pause. But I suppose, upon further reflection, this is to become a date for which I am ultimately grateful. That may seem like a cruel or callused thing to say –I assure you it is not because I am glad the attacks took place. Rather, I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful for the reminder to pause and to pray and to reflect upon the life of God as it relates to the world. I am grateful for a mind that is able to struggle with the difficult questions in life. And, most of all, I am grateful to be called into a vocation which requires this type of reflection from me.
My application for priesthood is due in our diocesan offices at the end of this week and I have struggled with the application more than I anticipated. This has been a very difficult week. It has been a week when I ask God: “Are you sure this is what you want me to do?” I know that I am called to be a priest; but that reality is humbling and terrifying. The sacrifice that Jesus gave when he laid down his life for the world only makes my vocational calling more daunting. But, when I stop to consider my classmate’s father, who was called to be a firefighter and who selflessly ran into the twin towers eleven years ago today, I realize that there is only one answer to give to God. That answer is: “Here I am, send me.”
Thanks for this post, Audrey! I often struggle with the issue of theodicy; in fact, my final project for CPE was a paper on my views about it. I don’t know that we ever fully understand it while on this side of heaven, but it is a powerful thing to meditate on. Good luck with your application–I can relate to the feelings of answering the call. But know that you will be an amazing priest!