“Here I am Lord?”
Adams United Methodist Church
Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church
Pastor Missy McCarthy
Music: Sue& Craig Gamet, Mike To
January 17, 2020 3rd Sunday of Epiphany
Welcome to Adams and Sulphur Springs UMC, I am Pastor Missy. Thank you for joining us. If you would like to join Bible Study or a small group, please message us. Please comment with how many are watching if you are joining virtually. Light a candle to join the community wherever you are at.
Mike Tyo Original Work
O God, you call to us today, just as you called to the boy Samuel so long ago. Gathered here today, we are many different ages, but we pray for the maturity of faith to hear your call and respond to your Word. Open our ears and our hearts as we worship, as we work, and as we care for one another. We ask that you would give us courage and integrity to answer your call with the heart-felt words, “Here I am!” Amen.
Scripture: (Craig Gamet is reading 1 Samuel, and Darlene Trowbridge is reading Psalm 139)
1 Samuel 3:1-20
Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18
Did you know that Martin Luther King Jr was a pastor? He saw folks not being treated fairly and decided to stand up for justice and against oppression. When he was working with his congregation on the bus boycott he ended up becoming one of the leaders of it. At one point he was getting threatening letters and calls against him and his family. According to Brett Younger, King heard confirmation of his call “telling him to stand up for righteousness, justice and truth.” In the middle of that prayer.
He had to do what felt like impossible stuff. Just like Samuel had to do today in the story. He was being called by God too. He wasn’t much older than you and was being asked to tell his teacher that God wasn’t happy with him. That had to feel really hard. Any time we listen to God and God asks us to stand up for those who don’t have a voice or can’t themselves it is really hard. It feels impossible.
Do you see this paper? It has the word impossible on it, because it feels impossible when we are asked to be that brave and do those things. When we get the feeling that something is wrong and we need to do something about it and change things. It can feel really hard and sometimes we just want to run away. What if I told you, you could walk through this paper – what would you say? It was impossible right?
But you see, that is the thing, with God nothing is impossible, God always helps us, gives us more courage than we have on our own. God makes an opening where we think there aren’t any, shows us a new way of seeing things or a new way of doing things, and helps us find a way where we thought we couldn’t, until we can walk right through what we thought was impossible. (if you want to see an illustration https://www.kidzone.ws/magic/walkthrough-t.htm) Let’s pray.
Reflection: “Here I am Lord?”
We hear the story of Samuel’s call this morning. So often we remember this story with a little chuckle because it takes four times for Samuel to hear God and finally understand that it is God calling him. Yet there is so much more to the story than having a hard time hearing God.
I am not denying Samuel did have a hard time identifying it was God calling him, but Eli was also struggling. We know he was not keeping control of his sons. They were abusing the people, taking the best offerings to the Lord for themselves and abusing the women who were in the temple (ch.2). They took what they wanted and as the high priest of the Lord they had all the power and authority – no one dared to stop them. They did not know how. Eli did not/could not stop them. The men thought they could get away with taking what they wanted by virtue of their position. With them running rampant and not protecting the people the Lord pronounced judgment against Eli’s family – sending a prophet to Eli telling him they would be removed. Yet Eli and his family continued to be priests and Samuel learned and served under Eli for years until this story took place, then Eli knew that the downfall of his sons and his own house would be soon.
It was only when after Samuel came to Eli several times did Eli realize what was happening himself. He had not heard from the Lord in so long. He had to teach Samuel how to listen to the Lord. Can you imagine the confusion for Samuel? He wasn’t born into the priestly family. He wasn’t “supposed” to be able to hear the Lord and yet, here he was. When he finally does sit up and responds, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.” He gets a message about the man who taught him and raised him that curses him and his whole family. Can you imagine the difficulty and the weight of that? The bravery it took for him to stand up and be honest when Eli asked him the next morning? He knew what was going on, and to speak that kind of truth must have been hard – and yet he did it. And Eli, knowing it to be truth, accepted it. Eli did not blame Samuel, react in anger towards the boy. He accepted the truth of his words and the reflection they required. How often are we brave enough to pull an Eli in that moment?
I have to imagine that Samuel must have felt a whole lot like Martin Luther King Jr. was feeling that night he had been praying to be let out of the task of organizing and working on the bus boycotts in Montgomery Alabama and was facing death threats. Yes, he wanted an end to the racism that left black and brown people on the side of the road after they had paid their bus fares. He wanted the unequal wages, the separate but unequal education, jobs and housing situations to end, but he wanted safety for his family and himself. He didn’t want to be the one in the middle of a mess, speaking truth. I can only imagine that it must have been hard to go through the night with the knowledge of what you are being called to do on your heart