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1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20)
As is the case in so much of the Hebrew scripture, we have some skillful storytelling in this account of God’s appearance to Samuel. There are a number of “visual” clues as to what is happening:
- God’s words are rare, there are very few who have “visions”
- Eli, the priest of God, suffers from failing eyesight
- the lamp of God in the temple is dimming, as well, though it has not yet gone out
All of which might well lead us to excuse poor, young Samuel from understanding on the first try — or the second — that God wanted his attention. Third time was a charm, with the help of the old man.
Does God ever have to try again and again to get our attention? Who is present to help us listen?
It’s a fairly common occurrence when I speak with someone in the parish about accepting a place of responsibility or service: “Oh, Pastor, I don’t think I’m qualified for that! Surely there’s someone else who could do a better job than me!”
Whether motivated by false humility or genuine concern, we need to be pretty careful when it comes to being “called” by God for faith and service. Psalm 139 makes a strong theological assertion — God KNOWS us! God has searched us (a term of intense scrutiny) and has peered into every possible nook and cranny of our existence. And God still finds us to be “fearfully and wonderfully made.”
God’s work is good work. We must always remember that our lives are the handiwork of the Creator, and that God’s calling and gifting are sufficient for any task God would have us undertake.
1 Corinthians 6:12-20
“Whatever, I do what I want!” might well be the contemporary equivalent of the argument Paul is seeking to broach with the Corinthians. (if you are unfamiliar with the idiom, you can check it out in the Dictionary of Urban Slang.)
As those who belong to Christ, can we do whatever we want? In a sense, Paul says, “Yes, we can” — and that’s not a campaign slogan! But that is not to say that we should do whatever we want.
The issue here is not keeping a checklist of naughty and nice ways for Christians to occupy our time; rather, what is it (or, more properly, who is it) that rules or controls our lives? To make Jesus Lord — to say yes to God’s will and way — means to say no, sometimes. (The contrary is true, I am sure.)
Our bodies, minds, and spirits belong to God; Christ is Lord in every inch of our existence.
Everybody needs a good, healthy skeptic in their lives. Jesus called Nathanael, whose name means “gift of God.” Interesting, isn’t it, that Jesus welcomed Nathanael’s searching honesty into his intimate coterie of disciples?
We often focus on more well-known followers of the Lord, like Peter or Paul and the particular gifts (and foibles) they had to offer. But, Nathanael is an excellent case in point: Jesus really does want and need ALL of us in his church!
One of my favorite rejoinders when I meet someone who says, “I’m just not so sure I believe in all that God stuff” is “Great! You’re just the person I’m looking for — we really need you here!”
by the Rev. Dr. Delmer L. Chilton
I have been deeply confused over the concept of hearing the voice of God ever since an incident that happened when I was a little boy.
It started with somber, funereal organ music, then a deep, basso profundo voice would intone,
I was about 5 or 6 at the time and concluded that the voice on the radio was the voice of God.
One day, my Daddy dropped me off at Elmer’s Barber Shop to get a haircut while he ran over to town to get a truckload of fertilizer.
So, this whole audible voice of God in the night thing is a little unsettling for me.
And the words of I Samuel 3:8 have been very helpful to me in all these calls:“Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.”
In the Gospel lesson Jesus calls Phillip and Phillip “passes on” the call to Nathanael, inviting him to come and see this Jesus of Nazereth, and the community which he has called together.