Today we have the call of Samuel. It is a wonderful story and a passage that is much used for those who enter the ordained ministry.
The Lord calls to Samuel and he thinks it is Eli, so the Lord has to call back a couple of times before the light goes on for Eli and he realizes what is going on.
There are two things about this passage that I find interesting. The first is that Samuel hears the call, but is confused as to what it is. Eli after being woken up several times finally helps Samuel discern, that this is a call from God and Samuel better answer.
I have heard personally and via the media people say “God spoke to me” or “God told me to do this.” Unfortunately sometimes it is used as a defense for an act that is at best silly, and often tragic.
When I have heard those phrases used well, and the resultant action is good and blessed, I usually find that the person speaking them has gone to someone else who has helped them discern that this is in fact a call from God. God does indeed call to people even today, but God also provides those who can help us listen to what it is that God desires. God places us in community, gives us the gift of his Word and sacraments that help us live out these calls.
The second thing that strikes me is the deep doo doo, that Eli’s household is in. Eli’s sons who are also priests do not take their “calling” seriously it seems and they blaspheme God.
This is nothing new, and it still happens today as this story about a certain Croatian priest shows.
Maybe this comes with seeing your calling as a pastor or priest as a job. When these things happen, and they even happen to Lutherans, I really wonder what on earth is going on. Yes I know those of us who are called to ministry as a vocation are human just like anyone else, but still, sell church property and run off with a married woman? Really?
As the son, grandson, and nephew of other pastors, the idea that being in the “family business” grants me special privilege has never dawned on me. In fact it is the inverse. Yes I am blessed to have such a cloud of witnesses, and a vast pool of experience to draw from if needed, but my calling does not entitle me, it calls me to greater accountability.
This accountability holds true for all who profess to be Christians. There is a song I sang as a kid, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” That is the call of each and every Christian, each and every person who is baptized. That is a call we don’t have to wonder about.
So, is God calling you? The answer from scripture is yes. You are called in Christ to love as you have first been loved. How do you do your ministry in your life? Well, go ask the Eli’s in your life to help you listen, and hear what the Lord has in store for you!