The vocation of the ASCM – by Sandy Yule
This is an expanded version of the remarks that Sandy delivered at the online Senior Friends gathering held in 2020.
I joined the ASCM through the University of Melbourne branch in 1959. I was told that the basic commitment was to test with my life the way of Jesus, or the truth of the Christian gospel, or other words to that effect. I prefer not to remember the precise words in order to emphasise the point that there is no pre-set way of doing this test.
While there is life, there is continued opportunity for testing.
About vocation, we can consider a text from the prophet Isaiah (43:1-2):
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.”
This is a highly comforting assurance which is primarily given to Israel collectively, and only secondarily to individuals.
Today, I want to hold up our collective vocation as the ASCM. Our challenge is not so much to define this vocation as to inhabit it.
Our vocation is given in our name.
We are Australian. We are located in Australia, but our vocation is from the world-wide ecumenical movement, where fullness of life for all is the goal. In particular, we share in the struggle for reconciliation between first and second peoples in this land, with truth telling and treaty.
We are Students. We are not satisfied with the limited knowledge that we already have, so that we open ourselves to further knowledge through research, study and dialogue. In particular, we affirm the importance of all groups within society having proper access to reliable information and opportunities for study.
We are Christian. We follow the way of Jesus Christ, not as defenders of our own ideology, but as defenders of truth and justice on the basis of the overwhelming and redeeming love of God. In particular, we seek common cause with all people of good will.
We are a Movement. We are not set within an unchangeable constitution or pattern of organization, but we seek to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit of God in response to the many challenges and opportunities that come our way every day and every decade. In particular, we seek engagement with contemporary students and the coming generation of community leaders.
I suggest that we recognize that we receive our name from God, co-working with our forebears.
This recognition will lead us to turn to God for coherence and direction in the living out of our vocation as the ASCM.
Rev. Dr. Sandy Yule is a retired Minister of the Word in the Uniting Church in Australia. He was General Secretary of the Australian Student Christian Movement (1970-75). He is married to Fay, with two children (Rebecca and Martin) and five grandchildren (Finn, Zoe, Emily, Chloe and Amy). He has been a minister in Fitzroy and Carlton in Victoria, lectured in philosophy and theology in Melbourne and Tonga, and was Secretary of the Christian Unity Working Group of the UCA Assembly from 2004 to 2012.
Sandy's doctoral thesis at Princeton Theological Seminary was entitled ‘Ideas of God: Some Dialogues’. He is the author of two books, ‘Making Peace, Making Sense’ (WSCF Asia-Pacific Book 14, 1988) and ‘The Burning Mirror’ (ISPCK, 2005). These works can be accessed at his web site: sandyyule.com