Naming & Calling Out the Faithful (The Old Testament Passage)

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.”(I Samuel 3:1)

This is an important fact to remember, beloved reader, that the people of God had not been listening for or hearing God’s voice. It was a time when the Israelites were searching for direction and meaning in their faith life.

At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ “ (I Samuel 3:2-8a)

Young Samuel had been dedicated to the temple by his mother. While the book of I Samuel does not tell us how old he was, I imagine that he was probably not older than 6 years old. Neither are we told how old Samuel is here. What we do know is that Eli was an old man, with grown sons who were a disappointment to God and contrary to the good of God’s people. This may be why the word of the Lord was hardly heard and visions from the Lord were rare. It explains very well why it took three times for Eli to realize that God was calling young Samuel. And it explains why Samuel did not know the Lord yet.

Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ “ (I Samuel 3:8b-10)

“Speak, for your servant is listening.” Pretty good for a boy who although living in the temple did not have an understanding of who God was. And pretty good for an old priest who had failed to teach his sons knowledge and respect for the Lord.

While most times the focus in on the calling of Samuel, I would like to believe that Samuel’s faith inspired Eli to renew and recommitment himself to God. In reading the first two chapter of I Samuel you will read about what God said to Eli about his sons. God also told Samuel about what was in store for Eli’s sons.

Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfil against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to punish his house for ever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering for ever.’ “ (I Samuel 3:11-14)

Samuel was learning at a relatively young age the consequences of going astray and falling away from the Lord. These will be important themes as Samuel grows into manhood and his calling as a prophet of God.

Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ Eli said, ‘What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.’ So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, ‘It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.’ “ (I Samuel 3:15-18)

We need people in our lives to confront us and tell us, with love, where we have gone astray. We need to hear those people keeping in mind their love for us and God. And we need to confront others when God has called us to be the carrier of God’s words. If we do this, we will receive full blessings from God.

As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.” (I Samuel 3:19-20)

Beloved reader, may you learn lessons from both Samuel and Eli, and use those lessons in your life. Selah!

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And so it starts [The Gospel Passage]

Beloved Reader, we are now in what is called “Ordinary Time.” This is the first span of Ordinary Time. There will be another one after Lent.The Sundays between now and Lent are numbered as so many “Sundays after the Epiphany.” The Sundays in Ordinary Time do not have any names.

As we enter Ordinary Time we also start to journey with Jesus as he completes his earthy ministry. Jesus has already started to gather together the men who will become his disciples. Today’s passage tells of the calling of still more men.

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’ “ (John 1:43-51)

We are a called people, beloved reader. Some were called early in life and grew up in faith. Others were called later in life and come to belief from other ways of living. It does not matter what road we were on before we were called to faith. That life is a life left behind – or it should be a life left behind. But it calls to us, tempts us, persuades and entangles us. We look back to that life, sometimes step towards it, and times return to it.

This year in the lectionary cycle is when we think about where and how we have left Christian living and followed another darker path that leads to sin and wickedness. Some have not gone far down that path; some have done nothing more than see it and acknowledge but have not strayed from the path of Christ. And others have gone down the path, around the bend, and down still farther on the path, and have lost sight of what Christ’s path goes. It is those people who are in most desperate need of being called back.

I do not know which you might be beloved reader. And I do not need to know. But what you should know is that Christ calls to us as he called to the disciples in this passage, inviting us to be his disciples. He knows us intimately. And desires to show us great wonders.

In the next three days we will talk further about being called by Jesus Christ. And what that call means. Selah!