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Speaking to the Soul: Talking Over Us

Speaking to the Soul: Talking Over Us

Feast of St Matthias, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:
Psalms 80 (morning) // 33 (evening)

1 Samuel 16:1-13

1 John 2:18-25

Both the prophet Samuel and God have speaking parts in today’s first reading, but they aren’t having much of a conversation. In fact, God’s words keep trying to move the plot forward, while Samuel resists. At one point, God just ignores Samuel’s fears and doubts by talking right past them. Might God respond to our own fears and doubts with similar directives from time to time?

We find Samuel stuck in his grief that Israel’s first king is no longer in charge. God doesn’t want to leave Samuel in the past, so God shocks him into the present by asking, “How long will you grieve over Saul?” Then God gives Samuel some instructions: “Fill your horn with oil and set out,” for God has chosen a new king for Samuel to anoint. Samuel responds with a complaint, asking “How can I go?” and expressing his fear that “If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.”

God chooses not to address Samuel’s doubts about the mission or his fear of being punished and killed the deposed king. Rather, God just keeps right on ordering Samuel around: “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’” Samuel is to invite guests to the sacrifice, and one of them will be Israel’s new king.

When we bring our fears and doubts to God, we don’t always receive the soothing encouragement or wise answers that we think we need. Sometimes, God simply replies with clear directions that keep the plotlines of our lives and the history of our people moving forward: “Fill your horn with oil and set out . . . Take a heifer with you . . . Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” Perhaps a simple next step, purposeful task, a re-engagement with our community is what we needed most after all.

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as Priest Associate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and assists with education, young adult ministry, and campus ministry at St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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Ann Fontaine

To me it seems like God is responding by saying you need to be sneakier about this job I am sending you to do. Yes Saul will kill you if you go straight out to do the job- but if you pretend you are doing something else - he won't bother. This is a surprise that God encourages lies. But not if one looks at how oppressed people admire "tricksters" - Jacob, coyote, etc. My question is -- is this how God acts or is it a construction to give hope to those who feel powerless?

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