Called to Nurture
God on Monday
‘I now give this child to the Lord. For his whole life he shall be
given over to the Lord’ (1 Samuel 1.27-28)
Welcome to the ninth God on Monday reflection on ‘purpose’!
This Sunday is Mothering Sunday in the UK. Originally, it had more to do with the spiritual motherhood of the church than with biological motherhood. But as biological mothers are the chief providers of spiritual and physical nurture worldwide, we may like to consider this week some inspirational mothers in the bible. Chief amongst these is Mary. Having cradled in her womb the world’s only divine human, she faithfully fulfilled her purpose in becoming the mother of God.
Mary’s song after her conception of Jesus echoes the song of Hannah - another of the bible’s awesome mothers - after the gift of her son Samuel. But in contrast to Mary, Hannah conceived only after years of trying. In her desperation she is found by the priest Eli tearfully pouring out her soul to God in the temple. She vows that, should the Lord grant her a son, she will give him
to God for life.
After Hannah’s request is granted, and she fulfils her vow, Samuel begins work in the temple. But that is not where his ministry remains. Called by God at night, he gradually rises to public prominence, assuming not only a priestly office but also a prophetic and political office. He thereby prefigured Christ, in what theologians have traditionally called the munus triplex, the threefold functions of Christ as prophet, priest and king. This prefiguring is reflected in Mary’s mirroring of Hannah’s song.
But that threefold calling, nurtured through the faith of two of the bible’s most remarkable mothers, is the calling of all Christians today. They are to bear prophetic witness by speaking truth to power; they are to be priestly agents of God’s redeeming and reconciling work; and they are to make wise judgements that serve the common good.
All three of these vocations are reflected in the injunctions given in Colossians 3.12-17. Often used in Mothering Sunday services, this passage provides a wonderful ‘commission’ to all mothers - and all non-mothers - to the role of nurture. It is also cited by many of the business leaders I have worked with around the world when they articulate their purpose. It speaks of honouring God in whatever we do. This was the life purpose of Samuel and of Jesus that their mothers helped instil. And it is what on earth we are here for.
Peter Heslam, Director, Faith in Business
For a short article by Peter Heslam published by the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity (LICC) on the work implications of the call of Christians to be prophets, priests and kings, click here.