Come. See. Listen. Follow.
1 Samuel 3:1-10
I delight in books. I find joy just sitting in libraries and exploring books stores and reviewing others collections and hearing how people are moved and transformed by the books they are reading. At any time I have a to be read list as well as a currently reading pile. This love for the written word began at home with my family. Dad was always reading something and I loved to hear Mom read to me out loud. We had encyclopedias, Bible encyclopedias, collections of folk stories, Reader’s Digest condensed, and many various novels and more. They even helped my siblings and I begin our own libraries with Bible story books for children, little Golden books, and new selections with every scholastic book sale. One of my absolute favorites was a small hardbound book with a blue cover titled Children of the Bible. It was a small selection of children centric stories from the Bible. It inspired me to want to know more about the Bible and discover where children like me were there. One that I loved to read and hear over and over is the story of Samuel and Eli. I was intrigued with the idea that a child, someone my age, could and did hear God calling and talking with them. It was inspiring to consider that God would reach out to a child and include them in the amazing work of God. I would read that encounter and imagine what I might hear God say to me one day. I imagined going to Eli and telling him something only to be turned away in disbelief to finally come back and be believed.
As I grew up Samuel fell into the background as I explored many other great people of the Bible. The idea that God would and did call out to someone the world and culture would have overlooked to be a part of the work of God stayed with me. What we discover in today’s texts is a God who chooses differently than we expect. We see God reaching out to the young, untrained, inexperienced to come and see, to listen and follow.
For us that is a bright spotlight right on each of us where we are today. We may feel insignificant, unimportant, unable to make any difference – God has a different opinion. Each one of us is a part of the saving work of the Lord. We are all called into the encounter of living grace. Samuel hears his own name. The disciples are invited by name. Come and see what the Lord is doing in this time, in this place, through you and your community. Listen for the word, the invitation, the proclamation, the instruction. Follow in the way of Jesus.
Samuel followed the wise instruction of Eli’s experience. Philip followed the example of Jesus to share with Nathanael who followed the witness of Jesus’ vision. Are we ready to come and see? Are we open to listen? Can we let go of all expectations and follow? Being a disciple of Jesus Christ is not only to believe that he is the Messiah, it is to be like Christ in word and action, in our whole lives. The psalmist reminds us that God knows every bit of us, inside and out. We are beloved, invited, and welcome in that knowing. Jesus knows where Nathanael has been and how he has been spending his time and welcomes him in. God knows the heart of Samuel even before Samuel knows God, and calls to him by name. We are known, loved, surrounded by the lovingkindness of God, invited to share the mystery of God’ ongoing relationship of salvation.
Are we able to hear and respond “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening?” Thinking of Samuel and the psalmist and Philip and Nathaniel — can we offer this phrase as our prayer? Of thanksgiving? Of hope? Of courage? Of calming? Of centering? Of praise? Of desperation? When we are watching the news and absorb all that energy of angst and concern and helplessness – can we turn it off, sit in prayer saying “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”? And in the silence listen for a prophetic word from the Lord.
When frustrations rise as we do our daily errands and shopping and driving we take a full breath and in the silence of our hearts pray “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”? Then watch the rise and fall of our own breath and listen.
We have a disagreement with someone we love or they get on our nerves. Take ourselves apart for just a moment (outside, in another room, to the car) and we pray, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” then do nothing but breathe for one minute and listen.
The Zoom meeting goes long and feels unproductive or monopolized and a feeling of “I don’t know what I am doing here” washes over us - we take a bathroom break and whisper “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” and stay an extra minute in silence, listening.
I do not know what you will hear. I do not know what I will hear. But I know we will hear nothing if we do not take a few seconds to stop speaking, to come and see, and listen.
I do know that out of those listening moments we can begin to discover what it means to follow. I do know that in those listening moments we begin to train our hearts to follow. I do not know that the practice of listening is where the most amazing encounters of grace have happened. Just look at our texts. Samuel. David. The Disciples. Jesus.
Make that a practice today to stop, take a break, come and see what God has prepared for you, pray “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”, listen. … Then follow.
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