Friday, December 7, 2012

Are you up for a promotion?

"This painting of Moses hangs in my office. Moses was reluctant to accept his promotion, but God worked with him! It was done by artist, Tony Wise, who taught himself to paint with his mouth after being paralyzed." 

Saint Ambrose of Milan was selected to become a bishop before he was even baptized.  One day he was doing his duty as governor of the region around Milan, Italy. A week or so later he had been quickly baptized, ordained, and consecrated as an overseer and guardian of the Christian faith. Talk about a fast promotion (read more about it here ( Sometimes God moves without much advance notice and does not care if we are “qualified.” We celebrate St. Ambrose’s feast day on December 7.

Look at Mary, the mother of Jesus. During Advent we celebrate this unwed teenager who accepts the heavy invitation to bear the child of God. A hasty promotion to sainthood!

“Are you up for a promotion?” This question carries a couple of meanings. On one level, the answer is always “yes.” At any time God could entrust us with some sacred responsibility. We are eligible for a promotion, whether we feel ready or not. The Gospel reading for the feast day of St. Ambrose reminds us to be active, because the call could come at any time. Luke 12:42-44 reads: “And the Lord said, ‘Who then is the faithful and prudent manager whom his master will put in charge of his slaves, to give them their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. Truly I tell you, he will put that one in charge of all his possessions.’”

The other meaning of the question, though, is whether we’re “up” for promotion in the sense of ready, willing, and awake. There are days when I feel up for a spiritual promotion about as much as I feel up for a root canal. I know Advent is a time of getting ready for the coming of Christ and the possibility of being called to some holy mission, but I sometimes hide under the covers. I do not want more responsibility. Life is overwhelming enough. I am not up for being an Ambrose or Mary.

Maybe my lack of enthusiasm is its own invitation. During Advent, I can confess my own hesitancy and inertia. By asking what is behind my “no,” I might be given a way to say “yes.” I might uncover a place that needs God’s healing and hope. Maybe God has another kind of promotion for me, one in which I am made whole. I could be up for that.

The Rev. Joe Hensley, 
Asst. to the Rector at St. Luke's
Follow him on twitter:  @revjoehensley

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