God on Monday
‘The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord’ (Isaiah 11: 2-3a).
Welcome to the twenty-fourth God on Monday reflection!
I was born on a houseboat and spent my first couple of years afloat. Because the Apostle Peter spent a good deal of his life on water, I was named after him. At this time of the year - often called Petertide - many churches commemorate him. As his namesake, this season has always had personal significance, especially since being ordained one Petertide 25 years ago.
Ultimately, the only reason I was ordained was because of a sense of call to that form of ministry that I shared with the wider church. It was not because I perceived that call to be any higher than other callings. Amongst my circle of family, friends and colleagues are many people with a sense of calling to their so-called ‘secular’ work that is at least as strong as mine to so-called ‘sacred’ work.
The highpoint of Petertide is the feast day of St Peter and St Paul. These two characters are very different. One was an unschooled fisherman from a remote rural region. The other was a highly educated urban intellectual. That difference is not apparent in many historic paintings of them. Those depictions tend to stress, through their equally fine clothing, their common calling to Christ.
All Christians share that common calling to Christ but we differ in the work to which he has called us. This means all spheres of work – unpaid work in the home included – have equal dignity. Archbishop William Temple insisted that pursuing our livelihoods and serving Christ were not in conflict: ‘all Christian people should enter their profession in the spirit of those who regard it as their chief sphere of serving God’.
At ordinations this and every Petertide, thousands of lay and ordained people gathered in Cathedrals around the world hear or sing the Gregorian chant Veni Creator Spiritus. It invokes the Holy Spirit to light their inner fire with the seven gifts of the spirit based on the words from Isaiah cited above: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord.
This communal invocation serves as a reminder that these gifts are not the preserve of the clergy but are available to all, regardless of background, talent, or circumstance. We may be an urban intellectual who has learned to make tents; or a fisherman who has learned to teach; or a market vendor who runs a fish tent. What matters for our life purpose is not so much what we do but how we do it. We need to be on fire with the gifts of God’s spirit to find and fulfil what on earth we are here for.
Peter S Heslam, Director of Faith in Business, Cambridge
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