Today, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, is also known as Vocations Sunday in the Church of England. It’s a day when Churches up and down the land will be thinking about what God might be calling each of us to, our vocation. There will, I’m sure, be an emphasis on Church-based vocations. But we do need to remember that a vocation can be in anything, not just priesthood or other Church work. God can, and does, call people to do the most mundane and unexpected of tasks for him.
We often concern ourselves with the discernment process when thinking of vocation; trying to discern which of the various directions God is calling us to follow. But in our Collect today we have this phrase, “teach us to hear your voice”. And that’s the phrase I want to think about today. It’s all very well trying to discern which is the right way for us, which is the way that God is calling us to follow. But how do we hear that calling in the first place, how do we hear his voice?
There is no “one” way that God speaks to each one of us. We are, after all, each unique individuals, so he speaks to each of us individually. It could be anywhere, at any time. We hear God with our hearts more than with our ears.
It’s unlikely that we’ll hear God speak to us in a big booming voice from the sky. But God does, sometimes, speak audibly through priests, teachers, friends, and family members — sometimes even songs, events, and people we may not particularly like. He can, and does, communicate with us in any way he chooses; he is, after all, God.
Hearing the voice of God is as natural as an idea that comes into your mind. That is, in fact, frequently how he does speak to us. A thought occurs to you, it might be something you’ve never thought of before, and it leads you to some kind of action that either answers a prayer or helps someone else who’s in trouble. He speaks to us in the natural moments of life, and through the Bible and our prayer time.
The important thing is to listen. Listen to those thoughts that occur to you, wonder whether they might be from God, test them against what you know of the nature of God. Listen as you read the Bible, and think about what that passage might be saying to you personally. Listen when you’re praying, don’t feel that to pray you always have to be speaking — it’s a conversation with God, and a conversation involves listening as well as speaking.
And when you’ve heard the voice of God speaking to you, think about what you should do as a result, what changes you might need to make. God may be pointing you in a new direction, he might be confirming you in the way you’re already following. This is your vocation in life, your calling from God. And you just might be surprised by it.
faithful shepherd of your Father’s sheep:
teach us to hear your voice
and to follow your command,
that all your people may be gathered into one flock,
to the glory of God the Father.
Additional Collect for The Fourth Sunday of Easter
is Copyright © The Archbishops Council