What’s In A Preposition: The Call
Today is “Call Day” — but as every student who has taken Biblical Hermeneutics knows, there are always “external entailments” to those verbally-based nouns (like “call”). So, who is calling? Who is being called? Why are they being called? And, what prepositions do you attach to the noun? Are we focusing on “called by,” that is, the Spirit? Or the congregation? Or the Lutheran Church? Or is it “called to” with a focus on the destination? Or perhaps even “called from,” as in “I finally get to leave St. Louis and these absurd Cardinal fans.” Dr. Andy Bartelt, Professor of Exegetical Theology and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Concordia Seminary, offers a few observations on “call”:
This is an extraordinary place. To be surrounded by students of God’s Word, both teachers and learners, in the community–and communion–of saints, in worship and Word around God’s sacramental presence — in this community, with these students, with this faculty, in this chapel, with this library, on this beautiful campus, yes, with a newly dedicated Benidt student/community center, in halls and on sidewalks, in the field house and in field work. These are special years for our students, a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience. And we pray they have milked it for all it’s worth.
But, as I like to quip to our incoming students: “we are so glad you are here; we can’t wait for you to go!” The Call, the field, the mission, the cutting edge of ministry is out there, away from this place in the pulpits, at the altars and fonts, in the pews and narthex, in the study and classroom and counseling room, in the trenches of city streets and rural roads, in hospitals and prisons and nursing homes, at the funeral home and graveside, in banquet halls and church basements, wherever God’s Word interacts with real lives through the ministry of these undershepherds of the Great and Good Shepherd, who lay down his life for his sheep, and who took it up again.
Call Day reminds us of what we do here, in this place. And it connects us to what our Lord is doing out there, into all the world. And that’s why we do what we do, in this place. And that’s why we rejoice with all the church when our candidates are called to go.