Here is today's message from worship, based on 1 Samuel 3: 1-10 and John 1:43-51
Have a good day


This morning we heard two stories of people being called by God.
One from the book of 1st Samuel where he was called by God.
Samuel was an apprentice to his master, Eli, whom was earlier called by God.
He served as a helper and was to learn from the old man about the things of God.

But when God calls upon Samuel he wants him to do more than just that.
Yet at first one night when Samuel hears that call, he does not respond to God.
Instead, he keeps running into where Eli is sleeping and says ‘Did you call me?
Eli repeatedly tells him that he did not call to the young Samuel.
But Samuel assumes it was his master and never dreams it could be God.
Eventually, Samuel realizes that it is, in fact, God who is calling him and responds.

The second story, our Gospel lesson, first tells of Jesus calling Philip as a disciple.
Philip responds immediately but then he turns to Nathanael and summons him.
It is in fact, Jesus (through Philip), who calls Nathanael to come and follow him too.
But Nathanael isn’t buying when Philip tells him about Jesus of Nazareth.
Nathanael’s doubt is evident as he says; ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?
But, like with Samuel’s case, Nathanael eventually answers the call.

Two very clear obstacles to God’s calling of people are shown in theses stories.
The first one in the story with Samuel tells us that he seems to doubt himself.
He does not have a high enough opinion of his own value to serve God at the time.
He never dreams that God would be calling him since he is only the apprentice.
He assumes that Eli, the old master, would be the only one God would speak to.
Samuel sells himself short in thinking that he is not worthy for God to use him.

The second obstacle is put forth in the Gospel story where Nathanael doubts too.
Only in that case, Nathanael doubts God himself and the origins of the messenger.
Nathanael assumes God would not come in the way of a person from lowly Nazareth.
Nathanael thinks that God would only be present in some grand and honorable way.
That God doesn’t use common or even persons of low status to accomplish his will.

However, God surprises Samuel and Nathanael when he does the opposite.
He does the opposite of what they’d assume when he comes to them.
God, in fact, does call upon and use the novice and religiously inexperienced.

I can personally tell you that God calls upon those who doubt themselves.
That God summons those who don’t have the obvious credentials to work for him.
When I felt called by God (that eventually landed me here) this was the case with me.
Because when I felt called to ministry I had almost no expertise in things religious.
But, like Samuel, although young in the faith I was surprised how much I could learn.

And, I can tell you (again) that God’s call comes despite other’s different opinion.
When I told others I was going to seminary, there were lots of raised eyebrows.
Some said ‘Can you believe that?’ since I wasn’t the most pious and holy person.
And I was inspired by a pastor who ended up being removed from the church.
Another who motivated me was a stranger and his family who I met that seemed like a sort of odd ball but who gave me a ride I needed in their Winnebago while on vacation.

God calls us when we don’t think it could possibly be us that he’d use or need.
God calls us through people whom other’s or objective opinions of are not so stellar.

So what does this tell us about God’s relationship to all of us and in our lives?
Well first of all, let me clarify this point -
God does not just call those who end up going into the ordained ministry.
Luther advocated what he called ‘the priesthood of all believers’.
What that means in other words, is that we are all called to be servants of God.
Luther believed that the butcher, baker and candlestick maker served God honorably.

So that means that each and every one of us is called to be ministers of the Gospel.
Ministers, not in the ‘noun’ sense of defining a job preaching and presiding at worship,
but ministers in the ‘verb’ sense in that we are called to do God’s work all the time.
God begins calling us from the day we’re born and then from the day of our Baptism.
But that continues throughout life, no matter how old we get.
Calls us to serve him in various ways by being inspired by and imitating Jesus Christ.

Yet, just like with Samuel we can believe that we are not worthy.
Or, like Nathanael, we can doubt God works in low places or with questionable people.
But God does call despite our lack of expertise and regardless of what others think.

So keep listening for, but even more importantly, responding to, God’s call.
It may be for you to do something within the church.
It may be for you to actively volunteer or give financial support to some good cause.
It may be for you to begin a new endeavor that will end up helping others.
Or, it may be something that enhances your faith or that of those around you.

But heed the call.
Don’t doubt the message and don’t dismiss the messenger.

Amen!