response: Nov./Dec. 2021

Responsively Yours: Give Voice to Our Calling

Responsively Yours: Give Voice to Our Calling
Harriett Jane Olson

This Advent season, with Assembly 2022 right around the corner, I have been thinking again about the journey we took with Mary, mother of Jesus, at Assembly 2018. Were you there? Do you remember too? We reflected on Mary’s spiritual attentiveness as she heard God’s call and watched with her as the angel danced in invitation to her special role. Not surprisingly, Mary had questions, but her belief that she had a role in fulfilling God’s purposes moved her to say yes to God.

Through the ages, bold, spiritual women have trusted God’s call and moved forward, questions notwithstanding. In this time, leaders and members of The United Methodist Church have been listening to hear where God may be calling us as a church. United Methodist Women leaders and members have also been listening to God’s call as we plan for our future. We’ve seen what innovative use of technology makes possible. We know the power of personal relationships with God and others. We see the needs in our communities and around the world that call us to give and to serve and at the same time speak up for justice and long-term changes.

Another thing we know about Mary is that she understood that Jesus was called to the tackle the status quo, to stand for the poor and the humble and to call forth right relationships with God and others (Luke 1:46-55). She understood that this was part of God’s plan, and though she could not have foreseen the particularities of her life, she said yes to God’s invitation.

After Mary spoke to the angel she “got up and hurried to … Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth” (Luke 1:39-40, CEB), and Elizabeth testified to God’s call and God’s blessing of Mary. Perhaps this welcoming embrace and spiritual sisterhood encouraged Mary to give voice to what Mary felt and knew, prompting her to echo the voice of earlier prophets in her own affirmation of God’s powerful action in her Magnificat.

Our moment in history, like the time of Mary and Elizabeth, is full of uncertainty and risk. What better time to seek out one another, to deepen our spiritual sisterhood and to give voice to the calling of God in our hearts? In the midst of turmoil in our own hearts, in our denomination and in the world, can we listen deeply enough to hear that God is still working in the world for wholeness, for abundant life for all creation? Dare we step closer to our spiritual sisterhood and venture to say, out loud, that God is calling us to play our part in God’s work and to make change in our church, our communities, our nation and in the world?

Opening ourselves to God’s ongoing work may seem very risky right now, while we are surrounded by turmoil. In some part of each of us we may long to go back to “the way things were,” which seemed more stable. In reality, the way things were is what led to our current crises. Our stability and our strength is actually in God’s love and God’s call. Can you, like Mary, bring your questions and say yes to God’s invitation to speak and act for love and justice in the world? Can I?

With God’s help and with yours, I will. Join me.

Harriett Jane Olson
General Secretary
United Methodist Women

Posted or updated: 11/2/2021 12:00:00 AM

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