This last Sunday we saw 14 new deacons ordained for the Diocese of Central Tanganyika. It was a very exciting day, and it was particularly exciting that I knew one of the ordinands, Revocatus, who had come to visit VTS last January with other Msalato students.
Each of these new deacons will be sent out to serve villages in the diocese. Many have been assigned to villages that are hours away from their hometowns, and I believe they each will be the sole clergyperson in the parish they serve.
I have been reflecting on what a remarkable sacrifice it is for each of them, and for each of my students here at school, to offer themselves for Holy Orders. They do not have the luxury many American seminarians have of getting to select the parish they would like to serve. And I know a priest here who was sent to his first parish and found that there was no house for him and his family to live in. I admire the courage of each person here who has responded to a sense of God’s call.
This evening I was talking to a student about a sermon he will preach next week. The passage is the Call of Jeremiah – Jeremiah 1:1-10. It is a fantastic text! And I think it offers words of comfort and words of challenge to each one of us, whether we are in seminary or not, whether we are far from home or in a comfortable place. “Do not be afraid,” the Lord says, “for I am with you.” But we are also warned that God knew each of us in the womb, and consecrated each of us for some particular service and mission. Even if we don’t all hear a call quite as clearly as the prophet Jeremiah, I believe God puts a call, and a love and a yearning, inside each one of us. One of the great tasks of our lives is puzzling out that mysterious call and learning what incredible plans the Lord has for us, and then finding the courage to follow Him.