The Rev’d Edward Erb
Grace Church, Honesdale
God know me and calls me from before I am born. And life becomes both a calling, a challenge, a mission, and a pilgrimage.
As a Lenten discipline this year, and as a part of this pilgrimage theme, I read Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and discovered that there is a bit of each of the pilgrims in me: the Squire, the Physician, the Abbess, the Cook, the Parson, the…. They are each workers in God’s kingdom, foibles and sins included. Yet they venture out in pilgrimage. God called them to work for salvation. Chaucer intended each one as a mirror and example for each of us. But that is not where I am in this hymn, “Come Labor on.” (Hymnal 1982 #541).
Chaucer’s pilgrims came to recognize what the second stanza of the hymn relates: on our pilgrimage, in our calling and work in God’s harvest, the Enemy stands watching. While we rest in our journey (remember the sabbatical I mentioned yesterday), the Enemy sows the seeds of “doubt and faithless fear.” And yet, “by feeblest agents may God fulfill his righteous will.”
What we are challenged to remember is that though we are called to respond, it is only by God’s work – through us – that the harvest of the kingdom is brought into God’s storehouse. The struggle, the work, the journey is hard. It is ours to do. But it is God’s fulfillment.
For years I have struggled, and still struggle with (as I mentioned yesterday) my pastoral need to be needed, the need to be relevant, the need to be responsible. For years I have told my children that I want my epitaph to read simply, “He tried.”
What I want more than anything else, at the end of my journey, my calling, my own pilgrimage through this harvest is to hear the glad sound at the setting sun, “Servant, well done.”
At the end of our communal journey, our work in the harvest, our calling and pilgrimage, may we as a people of God be assured of the blessing, “Servants. Well done!”