A long and two shorts

by Rev. Paul L. Escamilla, Senior Pastor

 As a child I spent summers at my grandparents’ home in rural Oklahoma. On their sixty acres they raised Angus cattle, kept a sizable garden, and harvested hay. Among the many interesting contrasts to my city life was this one: my grandparents had a party line.

If you’re tilting your head in puzzlement, let me explain: a party line is a phone line shared by other households. In a time in which we commonly see several phone lines belonging to a single family it’s hard to imagine the inverse—one phone line belonging to several families. When the phone rang, it could be for the Delaplains—my grandparents; but it could also be a call for the Osborns to the west, or for the Hales to the east. It just depended.

Depended on what, you might ask. On the ring, of course. The sophistication of modern technology allowed each household’s phone on the party line to ring differently. I don’t recall the ring sequence of the Osborns or the Hales, but to this day I do remember the Delaplain ring: a long and two shorts. When the phone emitted one long ring followed by two short rings, pick it up—it’s for us! Anything else, definitely don’t, or else you’d be eavesdropping on someone else’s conversation, about which more some other time.

I believe the call of God is uniquely placed, and uniquely heard, in every life. We each possess a singular blend of skills, gifts, aptitudes, interests, energies, inheritances, longings, circumstances, and countless other features, all of which together make for the possibility of hearing and answering a call upon our lives that matches no other. The apostle Paul observes that in the church “there are varieties of gifts . . . varieties of service . . . varieties of energies . . .” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, italics mine). What a colorful description of life together! Annie Dillard must have had all of this variety in mind when she declared that “God loves pizzazz.”

A long and two shorts. A short and two longs. A long, a short, a long. Three longs, one short. A short, a long, two shorts. The permutations are many. Show me the number of Laurel Heights members and I’ll show you the number of vocations in our congregation.

God works in infinitely tailored ways to summon each of us out of ourselves and, in the process, into our truest selves. To serve and to lead in the name of Christ in the church and the world is our life’s truest vocation. The calling is a given—we’re summoned every day; what remains, of course, is the following . . .

Grace and peace,