by Rachel Thompson
Recently I discarded a pair of my deaconess shoes. After years of lying unused at the bottom of my shoe bin, they had become tattered and torn by the weight of shoes regularly worn. In the past four years, I have rarely needed to wear my deaconess garb, as I am one of the many rostered church workers without an official call. As I placed my shoes into the trash, I pondered how to feel. Certainly church workers who are without a call experience the full spectrum of emotion, no different from the factory worker who is laid off or the executive whose business fails. Fear. Confusion. Doubt. Anger. Guilt. It is our tendency to focus inward on ourselves when the reality of our daily vocations does not turn out to be as rewarding or as secure as we had planned.
But in the end, vocation isn’t about how we feel. It is about who we are as we live out our lives as Christians and serve our neighbors with the same forgiveness and love that were first poured out on us in the waters of Holy Baptism.
“Jesus said to [Simon Peter], ‘The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean . . . If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet’” (John 13:10, 14). We who have been buried into Christ’s death by Baptism have also been raised into a new life with Him. When the sins and uncertainties of life cling to us, like dust to our feet, we hear Christ’s certain declaration, “You are clean!” He declares these words through the mouths of our pastors in absolution and through the sweet consolation of our fellow Christians. He feeds these words to us in His body and blood at the Sacrament of the Altar. Every time forgiveness is proclaimed and we are drawn back to our Baptism, the dust is washed from our feet. We in turn go out into the world to love and serve our neighbor through our daily vocations with this same forgiveness.
My deaconess shoes were crushed, but that did not mean my life of service had ended. It only means that I now serve in a different place with different tasks than I had planned. I am called to serve as an employee, as a friend, as a member of my family, as a volunteer in my church. Each day I begin with feet freshly bathed. I pull on the shoes of my current vocations, delighting to serve where God in His good pleasure has called me at this present time. So it is for all of us baptized children of God. We pull our lovely shoes onto our beautiful feet and go forth living, loving and serving one step at a time.