Summary: We all were called to serve God through the works of our hands and our intellect. No matter what we do, we are responding to our calling. God still calls each of us but we do not know how to receive God's message because we do not recognize the call.
The idea of calling or vocation outside of the priesthood is a protestant idea that came with the reformation. It was believed then, as at now, that we are called to different vocations in life and whatever we do is a result of our obedience to a divine plan. Therefore the carpenter was in service to God and fellow human as was the teacher, the blacksmith and the mason. We all were called to serve God through the works of our hands and our intellect. This idea of calling survived the reformation and led to a concept known as the dignity of labor in our own time. No matter what we do, we are responding to our calling and we are in obedience to what God called each of us to do.
This morning, we encounter another call literally: the call of Samuel. It is the story of a young boy in service in the temple under the supervision of an old priest named Eli. The priest is old and the historian in Ist Samuel tells us that the old priest had poor eyesight. It is about midnight because the oil in the lamp had not yet gone out. Samuel, the boy under the tutelage of the priest had gone to bed when he heard a voice calling his name, Samuel! Samuel! The voice called. Samuel did what all good boys do when they are not looking at their cell phones or tablets. He ran up to Eli, thinking that the old man was calling him only to find out that the old priest, with poor eyesight, did not call him. He returned to bed and then the voice came a second time, but the priest denied calling the lad. Then the voice came a third time. “Samuel! Samuel” The old priest might have been old but he knew enough that God may be calling the boy and so he instructed the young man V.9 ‘Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you that you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant is listening” The young boy returned to his bed and then the voice came again and he did as his master had advised and that is when he got a message from the Lord.
To understand the background and the context of that call and to appreciate the seriousness and enormity of this voice of God to a little boy, the historian took the time to narrate the times and issues involved. First we are told that “the word of God was rare in those days” V. 1. There was prophetic inactivity. There was an abandonment of religious duties and beliefs. Folks thought that they had better things to do and so they had abandoned God. There was apostasy in the land. The priest did not seek God in the day to day decision-making. The historian further adds that as a result of this apostasy, visions were not common. I am sure Eli had excuses. He was old, weak and could not see again. His children, despite being of the house of Levite were not interested in true worship and were corrupt. The priest still enjoyed the perk of his office. He lived in the temple, and made his living there but there was not much going on there. With no direction from the priest, religion just became a routine with no conviction for justice and mercy. Yet, despite all these God sought out a little boy so that through him he can fulfill his will.
This morning I want us to think about Samuel and the call. He must have not been more than twelve years old. He lived with the old priest in the temple having been left there by his mother, Hannah, to serve in the temple. He had learnt to read and copied the scriptures and had become familiar with the routines of the temple. He had learnt about holiness and had accepted his duties of opening and closing the doors of the temple. On this particular night in question, he must have just finished reading a part of the law and was on bed settling in for the night. That is when he heard the voice of God. What are you doing when you hear God calling you? Is God still calling us in our postmodern society? If God is calling you what is God telling you to do? You see there are people who write and who speak that the call of God is ancient myth and that God no longer calls us in our own time. I stop by hear this morning to tell you that God is still calling us to serve God’s people every day. The problem is not that God has stopped calling us, we just are not in the mood to listen. Take a look around at what is going on in the world and in your life and you will realize that God is calling us to respond to oppression, injustices, hardship and poverty in the world. There are several reasons that we do not hear the Lord calling us.