Today's Lectionary Text
1 Samuel 3:1-9
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.
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.” 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.
This passage from 1 Samuel is one of the earliest call stories that I can remember really spending time reflecting on in my youth. I’m sure it was used during some youth camp that I attended along the way, but it is one that I have constantly harkened back to throughout my faith journey. From my earliest memories of faith, I never doubted that God was calling me to something. The “what” God was calling me to was usually the sticking point in my struggle with God. Was it professional ministry? Ordained ministry? Lay ministry? What did God want from me?
The constant return to Samuel’s story seemed familiar to me, like I could really understand the story. I think it was because I often found myself, and still do many days, hearing the call from God, but answering it in the wrong place or towards the wrong people. I don’t recognize that voice is God, who is calling me to something new and exciting (and often terrifying). I’m thankful for the “Eli’s” in my life who have helped me hear more clearly and really listen to what God has in store for me and my ministry.
It’s so easy for us, as humans, to try to ignore or not really listen to what God would have us do. It’s easy to shrug off the “nudge” or “push” as irrelevant or not real. We as individuals, and collectively as the church, need to create more space to really hear the call and say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” Responding this way will almost never be easy or rarely is it calm, but it will always be worth it to speak out and say, “God, I’m here. Use me.”
--Rev. Zach Anderson
Goodland United Methodist Church
Prayer for Reflection
Loving God, thank you for your patience with us throughout our lives. Continue to call us forward into new possibilities of service in your name. Give us the great nudge we need as individuals, and as your church, to listen and hear your voice, so that we may clearly respond, “Your servant is listening.” In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.
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