Summary: Who are the Elis and Philips in our lives? Do we realise that God calls us often through the least likely of people and circumstances?

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Sermon for 2 Epiphany, Yr B 19/01/2003

Based on I Sam 3:1-10 & Jn 1:43-51

“Who is Calling?”

By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson

This Sunday I want to begin by complimenting the international ecumenical committee for their wisdom and inspiration in selecting the biblical passages that they did—since all of them fit together so beautifully like a fine, seamless garment! All of our texts celebrate and affirm the primacy of God’s plan for each of our lives. Each of our passages insists that God has a purpose for our lives and CALLS US, GIVING EACH OF US A VOCATION. According to The Random House Dictionary of the English Language: The Unabridged Edition, the word vocation comes from the Middle English word vocation and the Latin vocation, singular of vocatio, and means a call or summons. It is “a divine call to God’s service or to the Christian life.” It is “a function or station in life to which one is called by God.” (p. 1599)

As I pondered our first lesson today from I Samuel and our gospel, I discovered that at first, neither Samuel nor Nathanael really knew who was calling them and giving them their vocation. It also occurred to me that in both cases, it was thanks to others who pointed them in the right direction and told them that IT WAS GOD CALLING THEM. That caused me to wonder whether we HEAR AND RECOGNISE GOD WHEN HE CALLS US AND GIVES US OUR VOCATION. DO WE HEAR, DO WE LISTEN TO, DO WE RECOGNISE GOD’S VOICE CALLING US? DO WE REALISE THAT OFTEN GOD’S CALL COMES TO US VIA THE VOICES AND LIVES OF OTHER PEOPLE? WHO HAS SERVED AS OUR ELI OR OUR PHILIP BY POINTING US IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION? SOMETIMES IT IS OFTEN THE LEAST LIKELY OF PEOPLE WHO HELP US HEAR AND KNOW THAT GOD IS CALLING US. The following story demonstrates this very well.

It was in the days of sail, long before electricity, when oil lit the lighthouses along the coast of downeast Maine. Jarrod lived with his Uncle Ephraim, the lighthouse keeper at the Dorris Island lighthouse off Portland. Because the island was uninhabited except for Uncle Ephraim and Jarrod, they were alone most of the time unless Mr. Toomey came from the mainland to deliver supplies. It was lonely, but Jarrod knew Uncle Ephraim’s job was important, because it was his light that kept the coastal schooners from the rocks and shoals and certain destruction.

Both Jarrod and his uncle were lonely. To deal with it, Jarrod read a lot; Uncle Ephraim drank. The boy tried to keep Ephraim from drinking—though it seldom worked—by asking him questions about being a lighthouse keeper. That was Ephraim’s “calling,” which not only gave him the greatest life satisfaction but which, he declared—next to being a member of a coastal lifesaving station’s crew—was the most vital job in the coast.

“Never let the light go out,” the old man urged his young charge. “Many lives depend on us, on this light. While you’re here you must devote your life to its keeping.”

Though he wasn’t the actual lighthouse keeper himself, young Jarrod heeded his uncle’s words as a sacred trust. Jarrod was only nine, and this was his uncle’s job, but Jarrod imagined himself to be the assistant lighthouse keeper. He paid attention and learned how to fill the lamp properly.

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