The word “vocation” may make us think of a relatively narrow realm of responsibilities, but it should mean so much more.
The Latin word vocatio, or ”calling,” was long used to refer to religious orders and priestly ministry, Today, we use the term all the time to talk about someone’s profession (think “vocational training”). Martin Luther was the first to use “vocation” in reference to seemingly mundane and profane offices and occupations. Behind the semantics of Luther’s heritage is the idea that every station in life that is, by nature, helpful to others, is a calling, a vocation, through which the love of God is made manifest.
In the words of Gustaf Wingren vocation is “anything that involves action, anything that concerns the world or my relationship with my neighbor.”
Not only is the idea of vocation expanded beyond our occupations, but it is also bigger than any one station we occupy. Not only are we called to serve others, and extend God’s creative care for earth and humanity, through our vocations as farmers or faculty, plumbers or priests, accountants or artists, husbands and wives, daughters and sons, fathers and mothers, aunts and uncles, cousins and godparents, friends and competitors, etc., but we can also serve others in momentary vocations.
Momentary vocations are those brief moments wherein we may be called to serve a person in passing, an “extra” in our lives who would otherwise go unnoticed, but for some reason has been brought to our attention, thrust into our hectic schedule, or appeared at our doorstep. Whether it be a beggar on the street, a teller at your grocery store, or the person visibly upset in the hallway at work or school, too often, we pass up these momentary vocations and miss the opportunity to participate in God’s care for the world.