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Daily Devotional • April 25
Feast of St. Mark

Sarah Puryear
Called by Name
A Reading from Acts 12:25-13:3 

25 Then after completing their mission Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem and brought with them John, whose other name was Mark.

1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a childhood friend of Herod the ruler, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.

This passage on the Feast of St. Mark reminds us of some key elements in God’s call. 

First, God’s call came in the context of worship. Sometimes a call comes dramatically out of the blue, as it did with Saul in Acts 9; but perhaps more often we hear God’s call when we are seeking his will through worship, prayer, and even fasting. Many faithful people will admit they don’t feel as though God has ever spoken to them. However, when they begin studying the Bible in community, they are surprised to find that God does in fact speak to them through Scripture, “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers.”

The second element is that God calls two people specifically by name, Barnabas and Saul. The Holy Spirit’s call is not random; he knows just who will do his work. No details are given of what their work will entail, only that they are called by name. In moments when we are frustrated with our call, when the way ahead looks murky, we might be tempted to think that we’re the wrong person for the job. But God’s call is personal, particular, and direct, and God will equip us.

And third, Barnabas and Saul are sent out through the laying on of hands. I find the most powerful moment of an ordination to be the time when the ordinand receives the laying on of hands. As the Veni Sancte Spiritus is sung, God’s people pray fervently for the Holy Spirit to come upon the one who is called. Then, just as with Paul and Barnabas all those centuries ago, the ordinand is commissioned for the work that the Holy Spirit gives them to do. May we know the Holy Spirit’s leading and guidance in our own lives as we seek to follow God’s voice.

The Rev. Sarah Puryear lives in Nashville with her family and serves as priest associate at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville.

Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

St. Paul’s Bloor Street, Toronto, Ontario
The Diocese of Shyogwe – Eglise Anglicane du Rwanda
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