Thursday, 11 February 2016

Listen carefully

1 Samuel 3:19-21
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

Hushed was the evening hymn,
The temple courts were dark,
The lamp was burning dim,
Before the sacred ark:
When suddenly a voice divine
Rang through the silence of the shrine.


Growing up in the church, this was one of my favourite hymns - and the call of Samuel was one of my favourite Bible stories.
The hymn goes on as a prayer for all of the attributes that Samuel had that allowed him to be an effective servant of God.
Looking again at the story, I am reminded that in Samuel's "elevation", there was also a message of judgement - the priest Eli, under whose instruction Samuel was nurtured in faith was censured for not acting to quash his sons' sins of blasphemy.
1 Samuel 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.

With adult eyes, I see a story much harsher than the carefully edited version with which I grew up, a story with many layers. 
In this season of Lent, may there be space and clarity that allows the layers to be uncovered, getting to the heart of God who calls, who empowers, who judges and equips, a God who demands much, who gives much and who rebukes and corrects. A God who calls real people to serve in a real world.
During this season, may there be space to listen carefully to the voice of God for our lives today and the wisdom to act on and to share the whole message.

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