Posted by on Jan 18, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on God Knows Us and Calls Us

Dear Lord….Thank you for making us part of your family. Thank you for knowing us and all our faults. Thank you for calling us to be your disciples. May we continue to show our commitment to you as we work our way through this year. Be with us as we consider your words this morning.

This Sunday is the 2nd Sunday after Epiphany. I have the sense that we will all be having certain “epiphanies” as the days and year progress. God’s light will continue to shine on us and enlighten us.

The gospel lesson for this morning is from John 1:43-51. I am also going to be having comments about the Old Testament lesson from Samuel. These two passages work so very well together, I cannot consider one without the other.

In our gospel reading, we find Jesus in the process of appointing his disciples. In the verses preceding this reading we find the names of some of those people Jesus has challenged to follow him. In our reading, Jesus went to Galilee and found Philip and said to him, “Follow me”.

Philip was from Bethsaida where two other disciples had also come from, namely Peter and Andrew. While Philip was walking there, he found a man named “Nathaniel” and challenged him to come with them as they had found the prophet Moses wrote about and that the man was Jesus, son of Joseph of Nazareth.

I was taken back by the next thing Nathaniel said, “What good can come out of Nazareth?” Doesn’t this sound a lot like things we are all too familiar hearing. A derogatory comment about someone that we do not know. It appears Philip didn’t say anything in response to that comment.

When Jesus saw Nathaniel, he said nothing derogatory nor did he respond in the way we would probably have expected He said that Nathaniel was an Israelite who had no deceit in him. That was a shock to Nathaniel as he had never met Jesus before. He asked how Jesus knew him. Jesus responded that he had seen this person under a fig tree.

In Jesus time, the fig tree was a symbol of peace and safety. He had possibly seen Nathaniel reading the Torah under this tree…studying the law. Immediately, Nathaniel confessed who Jesus was. What a surprise! Here was someone who had been derogatory toward the area Jesus came from, and is now confessing who he sees Jesus is…the Son of God…King of the Jews.

Jesus sees us just as we are. He sees all that we do…all our choices…and promises, as he did to Nathaniel, that we and all disciples will see even greater things, such as many miracles, Jesus’ resurrection, as well as the angels descending on the Son of Man.

We are now aware of the way God communicates with humanity…through Jesus Christ who is both human and divine. God sees us just as we are and accepts us just as we are. Have you had

an experience similar to that of Nathaniel? Has someone recognized you by the way you talk to people, by your actions, your kindness? The other very important thing we see in the passage is that people are brought to Christ by the personal witness of people they talk to, work with, meet on the street.

Then…let’s talk a little about Samuel. He was caring for the blind, aging Eli in the temple. Samuel slept in the temple by the Ark of the Covenant and was available anytime Eli needed him. When he heard his name called, he thought it was Eli. Eli’s response to the call was, “Here I am.”

This call happened a couple of times before Eli realized that it was God calling him. He encouraged Samuel to respond to the call, “Lord, your servant is listening.” God then told Samuel what he would be doing to Eli and his family. He would be punishing Eli and his family forever because they had not been doing God’s will. They had been speaking against God and Eli did nothing to stop them.

This punishment would not be eliminated by sacrifice or offering…as Eli knew what he had not done. Samuel was not hurrying to tell Eli this, as it wasn’t a positive response from God. However, we see that Eli didn’t want the truth hidden from him. His response to the words were,
“It is the Lord, let him do what seems good to him.”

By Samuel being called by God to hear and communicate this difficult message, he had responded with “I am Here.” He continued to grow up, mature and had God with him all the time so that he became a trustworthy prophet, the first one named since Moses.

God knows us. God calls us to do his work. Do we often not really hear His call? Do we think it is something else. It may take us awhile to really listen…but God will not abandon us, but will be by our side and help us grow.

Yes…God calls us. God has something to say to all of us. God knows us…he created us and He has forgiven us through the offering of His Son. Let’s continue through this year knowing this and saying, when we are called, “Here I Am.”

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