Vocation in the New Year

“The Christian shoemaker does his or her duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” 

I love this oft-quoted saying of Luther because it gets to the heart of his understanding of vocation. And that is, quite simply, that God can – and does! – use any and all of us to make this world a more trust-worthy place.

In Luther’s medieval world, there were various orders of – and values assigned to – labor, and those who worked for the church – nuns, monks, priests – were viewed as doing “better” or more spiritual work. Luther, however, believed that God calls all Christians to care for the world God loves so much and for this reason all labor done with care and with a regard for the neighbor is of equal value and, indeed, pleasing to God.

In fact, the word vocation stems from the root – vocation – or “calling.” We all, Luther believed, are called by God to care for neighbor and world and anything we do toward that end – whether it is for pay or volunteer, prestigious or unnoticed, in a “helping profession” or not – is holy work.

Which means that 2017, which is nearly upon us, will give each and all of us manifold opportunities to show our devotion to God by caring for our neighbor and the world by doing whatever work is in front of us with care. Blessed New Year!