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Vocations Sunday

black and white photo of a hand holding a compass

Sunday 21st April
Year B, The Fourth Sunday of Easter: White


  • Psalm 23: 1-6
  • [Genesis 7: 1-5, 11-18; 8: 6-18; 9: 8-13]
  • Acts 4: 5-12
  • 1 John 3: 16-24
  • John 10: 11-18

(The reading from Acts should be used as either the first or second reading.)


Today is Vocations Sunday and since one of the four key tasks of Focal Ministers is ‘to encourage and support the vocations of everyone’ I thought I would take full advantage of it!

In the verse immediately preceding today’s gospel reading Jesus says: ‘I have come that they might have life, and have it abundantly.’ We all have different gifts and callings. (The word vocation comes from the Latin vocare, which means to name, call, invite or summon.) An abundantly alive church is one where the gifts and callings of all those we minister with are being recognised, released, encouraged and supported. Of course, these gifts and callings vary enormously and most people will have more than one at once, and certainly over a lifetime. We might have vocations to our paid or voluntary work, a form of creativity, care of family, friendships and prayer for instance.

Sometimes vocation is to a role in church. The Diocesan Vocations Team have put together some resources for Vocations Sunday, which are really helpful for exploring this. They include testimonials (not least from Focal Ministers) and some ideas for worship. They also explain ways in which individuals might begin discernment to various roles. Their website page can be found here.


We are often reluctant to talk about our gifts and callings from God. This may be through modesty, but also perhaps, a bit of fear too. I am reminded of the Marianne Williamson quote, made famous by Nelson Mandela.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

There are lots of ways in which we might put ourselves and others in touch with our gifts and callings. I won’t repeat those that I use in Getting Ready, but please feel free to share them!

Here is another that I first came across in Julia Mourant’s ‘Listening to Your Life’.


Find a quiet space and some paper and colour pens (or suitable App if you prefer).

Pray that God will bless your time in prayerful contemplation.

Draw a compass with points North, South, East and West. Then prayerfully consider where your life and journey with God is at in each direction. Use the questions below if they are helpful as a starting point, but follow your instinct if not. Take time over the exercise, returning to it over a period. Make notes at each compass point, selecting different colours to express your feelings if you find that useful.   


Where is your stability? What are your givens? What do you look to for wisdom or when you are lost? Who are your enduring companions on the way?


What is flourishing in your life right now? What is bearing fruit? What makes you feel full of life and joy? What hopes and dreams are being realised?


What things are coming to an end? What is it time to leave behind? What is being taken? What is it time to lay down? (It’s fine to keep memories of course!)


What new chapter is beginning for you? What is God calling you to next? How might your gifts and experience be taken forward? What do you hope for as darkness gives way to dawn? How might you be being called to invest your time, energy and love?

Dwell with it a while.

To end the exercise, you might like to light a candle at the centre of your compass or whatever you do to honour and dedicate prayer to God. Give thanks for any insights you have gained and if appropriate ask someone you trust to help you discern what you have discovered.

If you would like to hear more from Julia Mourant there is a great YouTube video of her speaking at St Paul’s Cathedral on vocations. I cannot recommend it strongly enough!