It’s time for Vocation Bible School at Daily Theology!
No, that’s not a typo. Here at Daily Theology each summer sees a new installment of our Vacation Bible School series. Many of our churches and parishes run a Vacation Bible School camp or series for children during their summer vacation. But we figure: why let the kids have all the fun? This will be our fourth installment of DT VBS, and each year we’ve taken up different themes each year. Our first series focused on the Gospels. Two years ago our theme was on mercy, in preparation for the Year of Mercy. Last year many of our contributions focused on politics and the family, a nod both to the election year and to the Synod on the Family. This year, though, we the editors at Daily Theology decided to tackle the grand story of salvation laid out in the Bible through a different lens: vocation.
What do we mean by vocation and why on earth would we dive into the Bible through this lens?
Most Catholics hear the word vocation and immediately think of religious vocation: holy orders, religious life, married life, or the enigmatic vocation to the single life that has been drilled into many of us. Some Protestants will perhaps think instead of a God-given role of service to their church and its members. These are important aspects of vocation, but we at Daily Theology are thinking a bit more broadly than these connotations of vocation.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, vocation can be understood broadly as “the calling or destiny we have in this life and hereafter.” If we consider the grand Biblical narrative, the idea of vocation is something that is both held in common by all of humanity and also something intensely personal. To begin, vocation is founded in humanity’s creation in Genesis. There we see who humans were created to be and the roles and relationships that they were created for: to be in the likeness and image of God, to reflect God’s love and care of each other and creation, to glorify God. Those idealized identities and harmonious relationships of 1 and 2 Genesis, however, are fragmented and broken in the third chapter. From there on out, God then calls (from the Latin, “vocare: to call”) all of humanity back to wholeness, back to right relationship with themselves, with each other, with the whole of creation, and with their creator. But in God’s grand scheme to call us back as an entire species, God also calls us in surprising particulars. God calls one man, Abraham, and tells him that the whole world will bless his name and find blessing through him. God then calls Abraham’s descendants, individually, and as a whole tribe of people. God calls them out of Egypt, then, at Sinai, names them as God’s treasured possession among all the people, through whom all the world will come to know and glorify God. The rest of the Bible, Old Testament and New, can be seen as God either calling the people back to their true identity (as God’s chosen people) or calling particular people to lead the people, teach the people, aid the people, or call the people back to God. In the New Testament, this calling takes on a myriad of new meanings when Jesus calls his disciples to follow him. Christians then mark their identity not through Abraham’s covenant or the covenant at Sinai, but through Christ: into whose death and resurrection they have been baptized into new life; whose identity they put on at baptism so that they might live eternally as adopted daughters and sons of God. Christians are called, then, to be followers of Christ, but also to be Christ–the Body of Christ, and Christ for others.
So we can understand vocation in the Bible to be a cosmic calling to communion with God, a general calling of people back to God, a particular calling of a person or people to bring about God’s plan, or a personal calling of an individual to serve God’s plan and God’s people. Our Vocation Bible School posts, then, will explore many of these different aspects of vocation as exemplified in the books of the Bible through the month of July.