This morning, I was honored to deliver the invocation to open the Philadelphia City Council session, at the invitation of At-Large Councilman Bill Green and his staff. The text of the short reflection and prayer I offered is below. It has been such a gift this year to serve as your Student Minister and feel the support of this congregation - I hope I represented you well!
As President Clarke mentioned, I serve as the Student Minister at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, down at 22nd and Chestnut Streets. And that title - Student Minister - means that I've yet to be ordained. I'm still on my journey. So because I'm still on this journey, I'm thinking a lot this morning about calling, and the meaning of calling.
I recently moved back to the city, after many years away. But I was born in Philadelphia, at Pennsylvania Hospital - less than a dozen blocks from where my partner and I bought our first home last Spring. I'm in love with this city. God-willing, I want to spend the rest of my life as a minister in this city. It's called me.
And you all know that answering the call to serve is bigger than just answering an ad on Craigslist, or in the classifieds. When you have a true calling to serve, it's not about career ambitions. It's about letting your life story speak. It's about realizing that everything you've done and every person you've known has brought you here to this moment. And you live out that calling - you live out your story and theirs - through every thing that you do.
So as a faith leader in this city, as a young professional in this city, and as a native-born Philadelphian, I want you to know that I respect your calling. And more than anything else, I ask you to fulfill it by listening. Listen to your own life speak. Listen to that voice inside of you that called you here to serve in the first place. Listen to God, if you pray to a God - but remember how God speaks through our world, in the voices of all the people around you.
And so I invite you now to join me in prayer. Spirit of Life, Holy and Gracious God whose other name is Love, we are so grateful to you for this moment. We are grateful for the breath in our lungs, the heat in our bellies, and the heartbeats pounding in our chests. We ask that you guide us, as we seek to use the gift of our lives in service, ever-called to be closer to you and the love you have shared with us. We ask for your blessings on our beautiful city – that you would help those within it, and especially those gathered here in this room today, to see all people as members of this human family – worthy of our full measure of love and care. For these prayers and for the prayers of our hearts, let the people say amen.