I found out a new Wedgewoodian is a clogger so I asked her and her clogging group to perform after a lunch at which we host homeless guests. In the course of our conversation I found out all the amazing things this senior lady does. Too much stuff to list here.
Cathey is a vegetarian. She is passionate about eating well so she can do all the things God wants her to do and is able to do all the things she wants to do.
Eating habits and the care of our bodies are sensitive subjects in our society, and have to be addressed from the pulpit with much wisdom. There’s nothing quite like a good old, non-preachy Baptist testimony though from someone like Cathey who is so inspirational. Cathey is going to tell us how she does it and how we might take small steps in the direction of glorifying God with our bodies.
Everyone wants to feel better. This text is a good opportunity to help folk do exactly that. A little nudge from the pulpit to go to the doctor for those doctor visit avoiders and a little word about drinking water and walking at first ten minutes a day can be just what the doctor and God ordered. It’s hard to do the work of the Lord if you don’t feel like well.
1 Samuel 3:1-20
A Better Pack Your Bags Sermon
Below are some initial thoughts on this lesson.
3:1Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
Presidential candidates are putting forth visions for America. How do they stack up with the vision of the kingdom of God?
3:2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room;
Passing the torch – are elderly congregants remaining active in the church while also passing the torch? Both are necessary: remaining active in ways an elderly person can be active and passing the torch while mentoring. Elderly are not to be tossed to the roadside or put on the back pew.
3:3 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.
3:4 Then the LORD called, "Samuel! Samuel!" and he said, "Here I am!"
3:5 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.
3:6 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."
3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
3:8 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.
We can’t always perceive what we need to know or do. The importance of a faith community and the cruciality of the other and the stranger for our perception and knowledge can’t be underestimated.
3:9 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.
Samuel had no clue the Lord might be speaking to him. Does your congregation believe young people are importance sources for God’s revelation to the church and to the world?
Are you listening? Do congregants and clergy actively listen for God?
3:10 Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
Compare what Eli told Samuel to say and what Samuel actually said. Samuel left out “Lord”. Samuel didn’t follow instructions exactly. Perhaps he doubted it really was the Lord speaking to him.
3:11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.
Sounds like Samuel’s is going to get to preach a great first sermon (note sarcasm), one that would require great courage.
Aristotle said that “courage is the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees the others.”
3:12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.
Wonderful. Young Samuel get to tell old Eli about Eli’s sins and the sins of his sons. Another great start in ministry.
3:13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.
3:14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever."
Don’t you think “forever” is a little strong. Isaiah said folk had suffered double for their sins. That’s bad math and bad theology too.
3:15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the LORD. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli
3:16 But Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son." He said, "Here I am."
Samuel says, “Here I am” but it does not turn out to be a here I am to serve on a church committee or here I am to gather clothes for the needy, although both are important. This is a “here I am” which one better rethink. It’s the delivery of a you aren’t doing what God wants you to do and you are going to suffer message. With this “Here I am” there’s a good chance they are going to kick you down the road.
In the prefect to his book The Man Jesus Loved: Homoerotic Narratives From the New Testament Theodore W. Jennings, Jr. shares his wife’s personal angst over the word of God coming to her husband:
For years Ronna Case, to whom I have had the good fortune of being married for nearly thirty years, has exclaimed upon discovering some or another writing project upon which I was engaged, ‘Oh dear, we’ll have to pack!’ Of late she has been keeping an especially close eye on the luggage.”
Maybe we need to keep our eyes on our luggage too.
Last week President Obama outlined his plan for the future of U.S. armed forces. It includes major cuts. On the surface, that should be news to make Christian peacemakers jump and down, but let’s take a closer look before celebrating.
In defending the cuts Obama stated: “I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand, that we can keep our military strong — and our nation secure — with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined.” (emphasis mine)
Wow. With cuts, still larger than what the next 10 countries combined spend on defense.
The United States is, and has been, overdosing on military spending. Our lives, our economy, our culture is dominated by fear. It’s one thing to prepare to defend one’s country; it’s another thing to be excessive to the point of neglecting other aspects of our life together that cry out for attention. Actually, I would say our defense spending is immoral.
Interestingly, not a whimper of criticism from United States churches.
Are there any Samuel’s willing to deliver the news?
3:17 Eli said, "What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you."
3:18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, "It is the LORD; let him do what seems good to him."
3:19 As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.
A preacher’s dream: none of our words falling to the ground.
Why do so many of our words fall to the ground? Of course, we can’ take responsibility for distracted sermon listeners and sermons are not as great or as important as they are cracked up to be. But what if we preach less “Reader’s Digest” sermons?
3:20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the LORD.
May God provide us with trustworthy prophets of the Lord. We don’t need any more Pat Robertson’s.