It was March 25, 2009, when we first introduced Vocation Vignettes – short essays by members of our church intended to stimulate theological reflection on our roles as Christian citizens of Chicago. Since then we’ve read thoughtful reflections on being in the medical field, the art world, the academy, engineering, finance, city planning, and being unemployed, just to name a few. There were 44 different vignettes in all! You can still find each one posted at Immanuel’s blog (https://immanuelblog.wordpress.com). Thanks to those who spent time writing and reading these. We hope it was beneficial for everyone.

Today we’re bringing this collective exercise to a close and as we do we wanted to recap and pull it all together. Understanding ‘vocation’ is so crucial to understanding how Immanuel conceives of itself and its mission in this city. And understanding vocation really rests upon a ‘Two Kingdoms’ framework.[*]

I once heard someone summarize this by saying something to the effect of, “The CHURCH does nothing other than proclaim the gospel, but CHRISTIANS do a whole lot more.” The church as institution is to remain focused on Word and Ordinance ministry. At Immanuel we assemble together to worship Christ and remember what he has done for us, not to receive instructions for what we must do to change the world. Therefore, we don’t have official, Immanuel sponsored community development initiatives or programs.

And yet, our desire is to see Chicago and the UIC Area in particular transformed over time. Why? There are many reasons, but mostly because we are being transformed by the love of God in the gospel and now are beginning to have greater love for our neighbors as a result. This love manifests itself in evangelism, but also in a desire for holistic human flourishing. How do we go about promoting this? Through “faithful presence”[†] in our vocations out in the world, primarily! Being a cog in the machine that is Chicago (no political pun intended), no matter how small, may at times seem monotonous or inconsequential but it is actually a dignified calling from God that contributes to the larger good of society. Your ‘job’ is a calling from God!

Our prayer for Immanuel is that “we would live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). May his love propel us to love others through our vocations. May we continue to catch an integrated vision for all of life that’s lived to the glory of God. And may Chicago be different as a result!