Today we hear the call of 2 of the disciples. Jesus has just called and renamed Simon, Peter after his brother Andrew tells him, “We have found the Messiah.” Listen now as Jesus calls Philip and Nathanael.
“Can you hear me now?” was a question we all heard on TV for years at the turn of the century. Verizon plastered the airwaves with this question, in hopes of getting us to believe that if we used Verizon we would be able to hear the person on the other end of our cell phone. Then in 2016 the “Can you hear me now” guy moved to Sprint to try to get people to change carriers. Hearing people is very important. It effects our relationships, our jobs, our understanding of the world around us. I visited a person a while back whose hearing aid battery was not working, and it made our time together less meaningful because we could not connect, share our lives, or hear the prayers. Hearing is important. To test this out, let’s do an experiment. If we did not hear every fourth word, what gets communicated is very different. Let’s take our gospel lesson as an example: “The next day, * decided to go *Galilee. He found * and said to him, * me. When we do not hear everything, it is difficult to understand. Fortunately, the men who are meeting Jesus for the first time not only hear him but also believe him to be the Son of God. Nathanael is a bit hesitant, but he gets with the program quickly. Jesus is calling his disciples to follow him.
Jesus calls each one of us to follow. First and foremost, to follow Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Another way of saying that, “I turn my will and my life over to the care of God.” That simple phrase helps place God first in your life. I have recently started saying I turn my children, my job, my relationships, my future over to God. This helps me to be open to God’s leading, open to hearing God’s calling. You can add anything to that list that you want to give to God. Because Jesus asks us to follow him in our daily living and to follow the path Jesus has laid out. But I can almost hear you say, I don’t have a Jesus path. Well that is the point of the sermon. To think about what Jesus might be calling you to do today?
Shari Gallegos told me this week that her mother told her she did not need to take home economics in school. Taking Home Econ was very common those day for young women. Her mother could teach her those things. Instead her mother encouraged her to take music and choir and this simple redirection has brought joy to her entire life. I would say her mother was shaping her calling – her musical calling. With a little encouragement and training Shari has shared her gift of music with so many people. In essence, your calling is the thing that brings you joy, the passion that is within you. Another word for calling is your vocation. This in not necessarily your job, but the part of you that seems to come naturally to you, that wants to be expressed even when people seem to block that path. It is the light that is within to share your gift with the world.
This March the women, sorry men, will have a chance to explore your calling at the Women’s Retreat on March 9-11. Women I hope you will prayerfully consider taking the time to explore your calling with a wonderful group of women in a beautiful place. I believe your investment of time will be a blessing to you.
Our Old Testament lesson also has a calling, the calling of Samuel. As you recall Samuel was born to Hannah after her prayer for a child. Then she gave her son, Samuel, over to Eli to learn the ways of God. The humorous part is that Samuel means, “God has heard” because God heard Hannah’s prayers. But as God is calling this young boy Samuel, he is not hearing and keeps running to Eli for direction. He does not get what is happening. Yet every time he responds with “Here I Am.” He did not realize what it meant but he was faithful in his response. What a role model this young boy is for us. We might not know where God’s call will lead us, but our response should be like his: “Here I am, Lord.”
Often we stop there with this story, but I think it is important to know what God has called Samuel to do. Eli is a priest and at that time, the priesthood was a family business. The priest’s sons were to grow up and fulfill that role. But Eli’s sons were wicked, they disgraced the priesthood and so God is calling Samuel to transform the long tradition of priesthood to become the one to appoint the first king of Israel. God will lead through prophets and kings, no longer through the priests. When God calls, big things can change. This was a turning point in the history of Israel, because Samuel heeded God’s call and was faithful, and the whole power structure of Israel changed.
When we follow God’s call we too can be part of God doing important things. But the first step is to understand when God is calling. It took Samuel three times. But when Eli explained to him what was happening, Samuel was ready. Sometimes others in our lives help us to see God’s hand in our path, help us to become willing to step out into a new area and trust in God. It is wonderful when our ears tingle with hearing God’s call. It is that indescribable feeling that God is with you in the midst of a situation or decision. That God’s hand is leading you to a path.
Today we ordained and installed new officers, elders to lead our church and new deacons to offer pastoral care to our community. Don and Linda are continuing as elders and Dee is returning to serve. Carolyn, Melanie and Susan are all answering a new call to serve as deacons. They might not know where this call will lead, but they are willingly answering God’s call to serve. Now each and everyone of you has a calling. You do not have to be a member to serve, you do not have to be ordained to serve. All you need is a sense of God’s leading and the willingness to respond.
Maybe that means you sign up to staff the showers for the homeless.
You join a committee like nurture and you help provide fellowship to our church family.
You count offering after church,
or you help in the garden,
or you have your own thing of sending heart-felt cards to people in need.
I want to say thank you to each one of you who has served this community over the years. The ways you have answered the call and served. C.S. Lewis said there are two kinds of people in the world: those who respond to God saying, “Thy will be done” and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.” My prayer is that you will be the one who says, “Thy Will be done” and you will live into your calling even if you do not know where that will lead.
God is saying to you “Can You Hear Me Now.” When that happened to Samuel he said, “Here I Am, Lord.” My prayer is that we say that even when we hear the wrong message. Say Here I Am, when you hear God call. Say it when you are certain God is leading you. Say Here I Am, Lord even when you are scared and not sure. Because the reality of God’s calling is that God will make it happen. God will intercede on your behalf and show you what to do, even when you have no clue. That is having faith in God. That is following when Jesus calls. That is what it means to live into your calling, trusting that God is with you.
Let us Pray: Inviting God, you call us into new endeavors, you call us to follow our heart and your leading, you call us to live into the call you place on our hearts. Bless us when we say, “Here I Am, Lord.” Help us to be faithful to you and to your calling, so that we can be of service to your world and especially this community. Amen.