A Reflection on Calling at First Presbyterian Church in Allentown, Pennsylvania
By: Katya Kozachuk
Do you remember that time where people actually came together and talked? Before the smartphone, Amazon Prime, and social media, people actually came together to have the original ‘Face Time.’ Instead of living life behind the screen, the original Face Time requires that people to not only be in each other’s space, but it also requires that people interact with one another in real-time. The First Presbyterian Church, in Allentown Pennsylvania, decided to try the original Face Time as a church by creating intentional space for people to come together and converse during the summer season.
These conversations weren’t just any conversations. They were invitations for church members to have meaningful engagements about the ways they see God moving in their lives. As a church, they’ve been exploring the idea of calling. What they’ve discovered is that calling requires community and incorporates creativity. In Allentown, story sharing about calling gives church members hope and courage to see what God is doing. Storytelling inspires them to see that the most important thing about calling isn’t necessarily responding perfectly to the ways that God draws them into God’s imagination, but their willingness and openness to God’s imagination. To be open and willing to God’s imagination requires vulnerability. It requires people to let other’s in on the story they see God writing with their lives. Calling isn’t about what we ourselves are doing or the ways we individually are seeing God moving in our lives. Instead, it’s about being present, hospitable, and generous with one another as we discern the intimate ways God is moving them, as a community, into the Kingdom of God. These Face Time moments at First Presbyterian allow the whole community to be known and seen. When the church creates a space for stories to be known and seen, they are participating in God’s loves because calling begins with being known and seen by God.
For when we know that we are known and seen by God, we have the boldness of faith and the courage of hope to respond to the things we feel God is leading us to do. Having a space to share our God longings with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ not only shows us that we are not alone, but it illuminates that our calling is so much bigger than just ourselves. What these Face Time moments in Allentown, reveal is that God calls not only the young adults, but also the children, the elderly, and all those who are willing to lean into the reality that God is with us.
What we can learn from First Pres in Allentown, Pennsylvania is that it’s ok not to have our whole calling discerned or figured out. Instead, what they’ve learned is that calling is a process that we discern and participate with one another in community. It is a journey of discovering God’s love and being challenged to step out in faith, even when it doesn’t make sense. It also gives us the courage to stand with one another when what we were discerning doesn’t lead to a victory or have a world-changing impact. God’s calling is more about knowing that God is with us and that we are not alone.