“May the words from my lips and the meditations of our hearts always be pleasing to you O God.”
This is one of those Sundays where all the lectionary readings follow a clear theme and where everything seems to compliment each element.
We began our readings by hearing of Samuel’s call. Then we read the words of Psalm 139 where we are assured that we are fully and completely known by God. Our Gospel reading from John gives us the story of the call of the first disciples. This includes Nathanael’s initial scepticism over Jesus’ identity based on his humble origins.
Our theme this morning is call - however, it might also include elements of error or mistakes. And we also see an element of needing others to help us understand.
Samuel is mistaken. He believes that it is Eli that is calling him. He repeatedly hears the call but goes to Eli to ask what it is that is needed. Samuel is unable to hear God’s call without assistance. Eli comes first to the understanding that it is God calling Samuel. He helps Samuel to understand that it is God calling him and Eli helps Samuel to respond to God’s call.
Who would have anticipated God calling such a young man to a new era of prophetic ministry?
In our Psalm we rest in the complete surety of being known by God and called by God to be our best, fullest, complete selves. This is probably my favourite Psalm. Think for a moment what it means to be known fully by God. There is no where to hide. To be sought by God. This is an experience far beyond words.
The emphasis on being sought and known run through the readings.
In our Gospel, Philip is called and in turn tells his friend Nathanael to “come and see”. Nathanael is not so sure at first that “anything good can come out of Nazareth”. But Jesus knows him, understands him. Jesus can see into his heart and knows him for a man “without guile”. A man of integrity. Nathanael will make an excellent disciple for just this reason.
What does it mean to be sought and found by God?
Samuel was just a boy who did not know God. But he was called to a new life, a difficult call and a message to proclaim. The story of Samuel’s call shows us that even when confronted directly by the Divine it is possible to be oblivious to the presence of God in our lives.
Our first disciples Philip and Nathanael would be called to a difficult life and a message to proclaim. Nathanael made an assumption that where Jesus came from would determine or explain who he was. Nathanael was mistaken. Jesus changes minds and hearts. With Nathanael and with us.
Who would have anticipated Samuel or Philip or Nathanael’s calls? The word of God - the call of God appears where it is least expected.
Where might God’s word - God’s call surprise us this week? Will we recognize it?
How is God’s spirit alive and at work in our questions, doubts and spiritual journeys?
Again, think about what it means to be sought out by God - as we read in our Psalm. What does it mean to be found? We are searching for God. We are searching for God’s guidance in our lives. We want to respond to God’s call to us. We want to be disciples. Being a disciple is more than believing, it is following. When we share the good news we are disciples. When we read the scriptures or assist with communion or serve on committees or do the work of the Church we are not volunteers. We are disciples.
Discipleship is a willingness to walk with Jesus. We have consented to a costly and joyous relationship. As we walk we learn who Jesus is. And as we do we learn what it means to follow him.
This year Advent will celebrate 60 years of discipleship in this place. This is good news! This is something to celebrate. As we look back we should be asking how has this Church tried to follow Jesus in the prayers, programs and the lives of its members outside of these walls?
How has this Church learned to speak about faith? What has our Church said about Jesus and how have we tried to live with that testimony?
We want to respond to the call - to come and see. We want to take the message of God’s love and share it. We would not be here if we did not.
This is evangelism.