*** This is a rough transcript of today’s show ***
It is the 25th of January 2022. Welcome to the Christian History Almanac brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org; I’m Dan van Voorhis.
The premise of this show is that we use anniversaries of events to reflect on the stories from the history of the Christian church. We are all about milestones- and today, we have one of our own. This is episode 1000 of the Christian History Almanac. If you’ve listened regularly, you know that we will debut the Weekend Edition show this weekend as we continue to bring you a daily weekday show until I can’t do it anymore.
Do you remember May 2019? What were you doing 1000 days ago? I had recently left my job as Professor and department chair at Concordia University in Irvine. In early 2019 I was working for 1517 and had been doing the weekly podcast Virtue in the Wasteland for six years. When that show unexpectedly came to an end, I felt a little rudderless.
But one of the big gongs 1517 has been beating for years- and I had been meditating on for years- was the doctrine of Vocation. That is, the doctrine that the things we are called to do- trained to do- often love to do- are how we love God and serve our neighbor.
I would have told you my vocation was to go into broadcasting in high school. I planned to go to Emerson College in Massachusetts for a broadcasting degree. By some accident, I had become something of a local story as a kid when I was invited to do a sports radio show on XTRA Sports 690. I made fake radio broadcasts with a tape machine since I was in grade school.
Long story short, I ended up not going to college because I ditched Algebra 2 too many times and got a D. I was ineligible even to be considered at the schools I applied to.
At 18, I was baptized- Youth Pastor Tom Gastil at Irvine Presbyterian Church had taken an interest in me (he listened to the sports show I had been doing and invited me to Rams training camp…). I volunteered at the church and later went to the local college.
Long story short- my broadcasting dreams that were dashed were replaced with something more meaningful- church work, academic work that sought to help the church… and then, with the invention of iPods and iPhones and Podcasts I got back into broadcasting, but now with a Ph.D. in history, with people at 1517 who have supported me for years and perhaps a little perspective.
We will all remember 2020, where we were in March of that year. This show- and this community has kept me active and thinking and trying to be charitable in how I think about fellow Christians who are often very different from me.
But let me tie this reflection back into church history. I’ve been spending the past month looking through every show I’ve written, read, and recorded. I was curious what I might see- what might stick out to me as I reflect over stories from Mesrop Mashtots and Shusaku Endo to Valentine Greatrakes, Sophie Scholl and Anne Hutchinson, The Bombing of Coventry Cathedral and their rebuild, the mental states and spiritual lives of William Cowper and Rich Mullins, St. Guinefort who was a dog, etc.…
And what struck me was: vocation. All of these “great” men and women, and some not perceived as significant at all, most of them had primary vocations as parents, children, spouses, pastors, religious workers, workers in non-religious vocations, the very rich, the very poor, the morally upright and those whose demons wouldn’t let them go…. By looking at the primary task ahead of them, their skills and gifts, and in the place God has put them- sometimes very unremarkable remarkable things happen for the kingdom that holds our ultimate citizenship.
So for 999 shows, I have talked about all sorts of people who did these kinds of things. But for episode 1000, I’d like to shout out to all the faithfully quiet Christians- to you, the listener (perhaps listening as you perform some service- driving your kids to school, cleaning the house, etc.…) to those whose trust in the goodness of God and the love of Jesus and in doing so are living lives of quiet, imperfect, sometimes frustrating but always holy service. Maybe you’ll never get an almanac episode all about you- but that doesn’t mean you aren’t worth one.
Thanks again, and as always- you can help us out here by telling a friend- rating the show on iTunes- and supporting the work of 1517.
We regularly ended with a reading for the first two years of this show- usually a poem. IN the third year, I switched over to reading text straight from the Bible, and I intend to keep doing it- I appreciate grounding the show at the end with a word from the Word. Today on episode 1000, I will finish with a poem- the very first poem that got me interested in poetry, to begin with-
The Last Word for today comes from John Donne- this is his Death Be Not Proud.
Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.
This has been the Christian History Almanac for the 25th of January 2022 brought to you by 1517 at 1517.org.
The show is produced by a man with more vocations than anyone I know- quietly doing the critical work on this show since day 1. He is the inimitable Christopher Gillespie.
The show is written and read by a man who, well… at 27-3, I was thrilled, and then I became very nervous, and then I was going to have a heart attack… but the Rams won, let’s do it again next week. I’m Dan van Voorhis.
You can catch us here every day- and remember that the rumors of grace, forgiveness and the redemption of all things are true…. Everything is going to be ok.