For Congregational Discussion: Re-imagining Vocation for a Frustrating, Demoralizing, Changing World

[1] As we deal with the high levels of anxiety and depression in our congregations, we might consider a collective re-visitation of the concept of vocation. To those of us who are academics, pastors, and laity, I ask: what resources do we have from our own fields of expertise to re-invigorate our understanding of our […]

Review: We Carry the Fire: Family and Citizenship as Spiritual Calling by Richard A. Hoehn 

[1] Richard Hoehn, in his book We Carry the Fire, is arguing for a transformative spirituality in which people are called to go beyond themselves – to carry the “breath of fire” – to be in solidarity with the poor (and the earth) in their struggle for freedom from unjust systems and structures. He is […]

Early Modern Midwives and the Lutheran Doctrine of Vocation

[1] Midwives in early modern Europe found themselves in an unenviable position. Though they still officiated at nearly every childbirth–(male) doctors being summoned only in cases of dire complication–their role had been cast in a dimmer light with the rise of the universities and the expanding claims of university-trained physicians over all forms of medical […]

A Foolish Vocation

[1] During my freshman year in college, four college students were shot to death by National Guardsman in an incident now only known as Kent State. In the days that followed, college students around the country experienced the anger, anxiety, and confusion that my own students experienced after 9-11. Many asked, how could death happen […]

Practicing Faith and Practicing Law

[1] My topic for the conference is the practices of faith and the practice of law, and I begin by offering a story that presents these two sets of practices in sharp relief. I will then make some general remarks on the subject of practices in general, what practices are and do, and then conclude […]

Religion in Sport

[1] Any religion worth its salt embraces all of life, not just the recesses of the heart, the sacred hour on Sunday, or the intimacies of family and friendship. A serious Christian, Jew, or Muslim who participates in sport also practices that athletic activity in the light of his or her faith. So there is […]

Workplace Justice and the Church

[1] The parish served by the young minister was in a small town with several factories, one of which was owned by a family prominent in his congregation. The workers were poorly paid and unorganized, and the pastor helped them form a trade union. He was invited to speak at the local Workers’ Association, and […]

Preaching Justice: The Ethical Vocation of Word and Sacrament Ministry

This article is James Childs’ address from February 4, 1998, when he was installed in the newly established Sittler Chair. Copyright © 1998 TRINITY SEMINARY REVIEW, Trinity Seminary. Used with permission. From Trinity Seminary Review, Number 20, Spring/Summer 1998. [1] I am keenly aware that whatever shine is on me is that of reflected glory […]

Vocation: Where Liturgy and Ethics Meet

[1] “The supper is ended. Oh, now be extended the fruits of this service in all who believe” (LW 247). Omer Westendorf’s popular hymn accents the linkage between the Lord’s Supper and our life in the world. The words of the hymn are echoed in the Introduction to Lutheran Worship where we are told “Our […]

Four Lessons from Enron

[1] The Enron scandal is a painful example of what can go wrong in American business. Fundamentally, the American style of capitalism depends on trust. It needs to be able to depend on promises made, on reports being truthful, on facts being facts. To be sure, occasional relatively small mistakes, short delays, or little lies […]