Although the readings in the early days of this new year often center around the theme of call, there is a fair amount of diversity in the specifics – and, on Sundays, emphasis from the Hebrew Scriptures as well. This morning we read one of my favorite texts from the First Book of Samuel (1 SAM 3) which could be performed as a short comedy sketch. Samuel is a child living in the temple under the tutelage of Eli when he hears God call his name in the night. This being his first such experience he thinks Eli is calling so he runs to him and says, “Here I am. You called me.” Eli, probably a bit groggy from sleep, says to him, “I didn’t call you. Go back to sleep.” This happens again, not once but twice and it is only the third time that Eli realizes that it is God calling Samuel. He then directs Samuel that when he hears God calling he is to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
The move from Samuel to the Gospel of John is punctuated by Psalm 40 which fairly shouts: I have waited, waited for the Lord and he stooped toward me and heard my cry. He put a new song in my mouth! Then we see John the Baptist standing – as if waiting – with two of his disciples as Jesus walks by. He is recorded as saying, “Behold the Lamb of God.” Immediately the disciples leave John and follow Jesus. John does nothing to stop them as he knows that his role is herald. When Jesus turns around and sees them he asks, “What are you looking for?” They counter with the question: “Where are you staying?” “Come and you will see,” he says and, amazingly, they do. One is Andrew who goes and tells his brother, Simon, of the experience and brings him to Jesus as well.
Setting these scenes in such detail might seem a bit much but I think necessary to illustrate two things about call: readiness and agency. How ready are we at any moment to respond to God’s call in whatever form it comes to us? Secondly, are we willing to hear messages from others that may move us to such a response? Eli, John the Baptist, Jesus himself and then Andrew were instrumental in the movement of Samuel, Andrew and Peter toward God. Today seems a good day to reflect on our own readiness and then to thank God for those in our lives who have been catalysts on our path to “Here I am, Lord!”