(Samuel awakened from his bed, Stained glass window at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)
Daily Office Readings for Friday, June 21, 2019:
For better or worse, probably a number of us, upon reading our passage from 1 Samuel today, heard snippets of Dan Schutte’s folk hymn, “Here I am, Lord.” That song probably has the dubious distinction of simultaneously being one of the most beloved AND the most reviled contemporary hymns out there. People rarely have a lukewarm reaction to it–they either love it or hate it.
That might be true for the whole notion of calling, as well. We either embrace it–or run from it– for the most part, and generally the reaction scale is heavily tipped toward disbelief, avoidance, and denial.
The story of God calling Samuel in the night has parallels to so many of the stories about the prophets. All of them seem to follow a similar pattern–God calls, and the initial reaction (the notable exception being Mary, the mother of Jesus) is one of disbelief or those around us not having heard a thing. Samuel thinks it’s Eli calling him–repeatedly–and it’s not until Eli is awakened by Samuel a third time that it suddenly dawns on him, “Hey, wait–maybe it’s God.”
Samuel’s story is one that puts the importance of the community’s perspective in the process of calling. Although we tend to think of “calling” in terms of the call to ordained ministry or vowed religious life, in reality every baptized Christian is called to something, and that call is neither self-determined, nor solely a “Me ‘n’ God” thing. If a call is there, the collective spiritual wisdom in the community–and not only the Christian community–will see it–yet it is the role of the Christian community to interpret the data. I remember early in my own call process towards ordination, one of the early voices came from my Hindu pathology practice associate!
The motto, “If you see something, say something” comes to mind (never mind it’s been co-opted by Homeland Security.) Look around your parish…
Is someone joyfully going about a piece of outreach with a passion that seems to shine? Perhaps they’re called to it, and they need to hear that.
Does someone go around and sing last week’s hymn tunes to themselves while doing tasks? Perhaps they’re called to be part of a music ministry.
Does someone interact with children readily and easily, showing good judgment with that responsibility and attention to boundaries? It might be your next person to help with Vacation Bible School.
Is someone active with feeding the hungry in the community, and joy radiates from them when they do?That person might be the one to start a similar ministry in your parish.
Noticing doesn’t have to be alarming or overly serious. “Hey, I’ve been watching how you (fill in the blank) and how much you seem to love it…has it ever crossed your mind you might be called to (fill in the blank)?” is all it takes. Additionally, when we are open to seeing the signs of calling in others, we’re more likely to believe it can happen to us, too.
When all of us–laity and clergy–feel the energy of living our call, we’ll find the answer to the question Dan Schutte poses in the hymn…
Who will bear my light to them?
Whom shall I send?
Maria Evans splits her week between being a pathologist and laboratory director in Kirksville, MO, and gratefully serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri , as the Interim Pastor at Christ Episcopal Church, Rolla, MO.