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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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July 16, 2008

Vocation and ministry

As my family and I experienced Mom's death and tended to the details of death and burial, we were struck by the sense of vocation and of ministry we found in several people. A couple stand out.

The funeral director in Lake Mills, Iowa. When my siblings and I first met with Bart Winter from Mittelstadt Funeral Home, we knew from his language that this wasn't just business. This was ministry. He often spoke of being guided by the cross that hung on the wall where he did his work. When we thanked him for the wonderful way he and his staff did their work, he gave credit to God. It was so clear that his work was ministry. He had a true sense of vocation as Martin Luther spoke of it. (See "Take your faith with you." ) It's about how we approach ordinary work in our day-to-day lives.

Then there's the owner of the Grand Cafe in Lake Mills—Diane Brackey. When we worked with the funeral director and the pastor on details of the funeral service and the lunch afterward, we were told that the local cafe would furnish a hot meal. That's what we wanted since some would be coming from a distance. We figured it would cost a fair bit. No, we were told. Diane is happy to do this at a low cost. She sees that as service. Hmmmmm, another person who sees vocation and ministry in her day-to-day work.

It's a good thing to ponder in our lives. How do I see what I do Monday-Friday? Or really Monday-Saturday? When do I do ministry? And what do we Lutherans believe about vocation anyway?

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