One of the things I love most about the lectionary is the arcs that they make – connections over the seasons helping to give opportunities to enter deeper and deeper into the stories of the faith.
As we move past Christmas and into the season of Epiphany. We have heard stories of Kings and of baptisms – remarkable stories revealing the remarkable coming to earth of God godself. The great mystery of Christmas is the miracle of the incarnation. Year after year we leave the celebrations and the joy and continue on to the stories of the life of Jesus calling us each into deeper discipleship.
Today’s primary text comes from the book of 1 Samuel. In difficult times where the people of God were led by Judges, not Kings as many Kingdoms around them. God was the King of the people of Israel. Yet this wasn’t enough for them. They fell away from following the laws and hearing the voice of God. Therefore the beginning of this passage suggests that God stop speaking.
Many parents out there can commiserate with the feeling of your beloved children who are not listening – and after a while of not being heard – you may also stop speaking.
Yet there was a young boy, Samuel, who was training under the priest Eli – in this young child God saw potential and reached out. Samuel didn’t recognize the voice of God and went not once, or twice, but three times to the aging Eli, responding to a call for his help. It was Eli who recognized that God might be calling, and he coached Samuel how to respond.
Many parents and teachers play this important role – the role of coaching and helping young people (or any age people!) respond to a calling. “Calling” has become a kind of “Christianese” term. Not many hear the clear call Samuel did that night. It can also be convenient to interpret a lucrative career or choice as God’s calling. Or when one is in a dark night we often question what we thought to be God’s calling on our lives.
I strongly think that calling is a very important concept in our faith – along with understanding our own gifts. Combined these two concepts along with the knowledge that we are all God’s beloved creation help to shape the Christian identity. If we are careful, these concepts are also very powerful ways for us to share our faith with others.
In the time I spent in high school, college, and a few years after college I tried to fight the nagging voice inside of me to go to seminary and pursue ministry. I was going to be a teacher – maybe a rock climbing teacher, or a camp director – but definitely not a pastor or work for a church. I fought what I slowly came to accept as my calling. Yet I came across the idea that the most fulfilling work is for each person to find a meeting place of their passion with the world’s deepest need. I have a passion for theology – and I think the world desperately needs healthy, sound, responsible theology for bad theology kills people across our world daily.
I wonder what are some of your passions? I wonder how God is calling you to share your gifts with the world? I wonder how you respond to that calling?