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Blogging Towards Sunday, October 15, 2017

 

hearingGod

 

1 Samuel 3:1-21 & John 20:21-23

 

This week we jump from the story God’s Manna and provision for the Israelites in the wilderness of their Exodus freedom to the story of the call of Samuel, the great priest of Israel who ordained the first monarchs. It’s the first in a series of four stories about how God calls us.  We continue moving between stories of vocation in the First Testament.

 

In the unfolding history of Israel, we skip over the wandering of the people of God in the wilderness, their arrival and  establishment in the promised land as well as the stories of the Judges and Ruth.  Today’s story is one of endings and a new beginning, law and gospel,  of death and resurrection.

 

Today’s story begins before the text we have.  Samuel exists because of his mother Hannah (her name in Hebrew means “grace”); a barren woman who prays desperately for a child.  Deemed drunk and crazy by the priests who hear her passionate prayer, she is vindicated by God’s grace, giving birth to a son, Samuel, giving him to God to serve as a minister.  Hence how he comes to be with Eli the priest.  That crucial, yet often overlooked story of how women are yet again essential in the story of God’s people, is told in 1 Samuel 1 and 2.

 

This also happens at a time of great spiritual malaise, institutional collapse and societal change.  The sons of Eli were known as bad “pastor’s kids,” consistently using their power, privilege and institutional position to harass, steal and intimidate the people of God as they came to worship at the Tabernacle.  They stole from the offering and the treasury.    The story of their abuse of power and profaning of God’s name is told in 1 Samuel 2:12-17.

 

God calls to Samuel, calling him to action.  He becomes the great priest and prophet of Israel.  Yet here he is simply called to speak truth to power: to be a truth-teller to Eli, his sons and the people, calling out the clerical abuse and institutional corruption.  It seems that this abuse is an essential part of what keeps the people from hearing God’s voice, described as the rarity of the word of God in those days (1 Samuel 3: 1).  Jesus in his words to his disciples gives them his authority, sending them (that’s what the word “apostle” literally means “sent ones”) as God has sent Jesus.  This has implications of both authority and responsibility.  Call seems to be more about a relationship than an action, a mutual interaction than a one-directional commandment.  How are we called today to be apostles, to speak the truth of God in our world?  What might prevent us from hearing that invitation individually?; as a church?

 

Questions for the practice of Examen & Contemplation

 

  • What shimmers for you in this passage?

 

  • How does the story of the call of Samuel intersect your own story?

 

  • How have you experienced God’s call in your life?  Is there a biblical story that your story echoes? Possibly one of those we’ve looked at this season: Adam and Eve; Abram and Sarah; Moses; Aaron, or Samuel?  How so?

 

  • Talk with God about your sense of calling or your desire to have a clearer sense of call and God’s presence in your life.

 

LINK TO PDF Study Sheet of 1 Samuel 3 and John 20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3 comments on “Blogging Towards Sunday, October 15, 2017

  1. gary and caroline
    October 14, 2017

    In this story, about being called, and being sent, and sending others, the passing of the peace from one to another is the gift that we are given. But like Samuel, we may not hear the call so clearly. Maybe we don’t want to, or maybe we haven’t been taught how.

    How hard it must have been for God to call Samuel, and not Eli’s own kids! So, honestly, I have no idea who were Eli’s kids, but I know Samuel, because he was faithful and spoke the Word from God.

  2. Monte McClain
    October 15, 2017

    It’s a sweet story, easily made into a trite or “cute” one…but like you bring up there is a lot of pain and hardness there….passing over Eli’s children, the challenge of Samuel’s call to tell a hard truth to power, and Eli having to come to Jesus in terms of the evilness of his children and the demanding justice of God. It’s hard to hear, probably not something I’d want to hear.

  3. Pingback: Blogging Towards Sunday, October 22, 2017 – Monte McClain

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This entry was posted on October 12, 2017 by in Blogging Towards Sunday.

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