This week in these readings about Eli and Samuel, in the psalm, and in John's story of calling the disciples, we are reminded that God already knows us, God already knows you, God claims us, God loves us first.
Have you found Jesus? Is a question that is asked in certain circles. I believe we are mistaken when we think we need to find Jesus. Like Jesus is playing a game of hide and seek with us, and he's been behind the couch all along. "Lord, you have searched me out and known me, you know my sitting down and my rising up, you discern my thoughts from afar," psalm 139 reminds us. We don't need to find Jesus, Jesus calls us, indeed we need to be of a heart and a mind and a posture to listen. We spend so much time and energy building our own walls, surrounding ourselves with such noise, that we cannot hear God’s call, and we are blinded to Jesus who shows up. We build walls that alienate and isolate ourselves from the love that claims our hearts.
The litany is endless.
You've heard it, you've said it, you've experienced it. There's the I'm not going to church list. I've got better things to do, I don't have time, It's the only time we have together as a family, I'd rather drink coffee, read the paper, look at facebook, I don't like the music they sing there, I don't like the prayers they say there, I don't like the people there, they're hypocrites, I don't like the style of worship there, I don't like the priest there. There's nobody like me there, everybody is like me there. There's no kids there, there's too many kids there, the kids there make noise.
There's the I'm spiritual but not religious list. I don't need organized religion, I can worship God on my own, at home, in nature, on the golf course.
There's the I don't believe in God list. That God is violent, punishing. I can't believe in a God who takes innocent lives, I can't believe in a God who causes suffering. I can't believe in a God who doesn't take all of this pain and suffering away.
And then there's the I'm not good enough list. I've done something so horrible God would not want me, I'm guilty of something, I'm not worthy, I'm no good. And a related list, the I'm too good for them list. They don't believe what I believe, that doesn't fulfill my needs, I don't like that music.
And, there is the fear. If I really listen, I might have to do something about it. And that, my friends is where it really is, isn't it? Listening and responding to God's call, God's claim on our hearts, is scary. It means that we go outside of what is comfortable, it means that we take risks with our hearts, and maybe even our lives. But, in a world torn apart by anger, hatred and conflict, we have the privilege of being living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds. In a society where racism and misogyny are becoming normalized, we have the privilege of being witnesses to the dignity and respect for all God’s people in all parts of God’s creation. In families torn apart by the drive for more, and bigger, and better, we have the privilege of being living signs of a love that can lift up the lowly and bring down the mighty.
The truth is that it is God's hearts desire for us to be in relationship with God, and any relationship takes work, it takes listening, it takes learning, it takes responding. Around here we believe that God loves, we believe that love shows up in Jesus, and in you and in all of us. But, love is just a word until someone gives it meaning, Jesus is the meaning, you are the meaning, you are the hands and feet of this love.
So we listen to God's call, and we discern God's call to us. We put aside all the excuses, all the reasons why not. We put aside our fear, and we respond. We do as the disciples did, we do as Eli and Samuel did, we listen together, in community, with each other, not alone. We listen together, and we respond. But we don't necessarily all respond in the same way, because part of our job is to be who we are, fully and completely. Our response to God’s amazing, abundant, and unconditional love, is the way we live our lives, the love and compassion and mercy that we offer to others.
How do you live your response to God's claim on your life? How do you live your response to God's call to you? How do we, here at Trinity live our common life together, in response to God's call? How do you, how do we, show up and show forth the light, and the love, the suffering and the death, the hope, that is the truth of this life?
This week we remember Martin Luther King Jr. a man who responded with courage to God's claim on his life. Martin Luther King Jr. showed us that dreams are made of treating every bit of God's creation, every color of God’s creation, every place on this earth, with mercy, compassion, and justice.
Sometimes the violence and the tragedy in our world, in our community seems overwhelming. Sometimes the rhetoric is so crazy we cannot even believe it came out of someone’s mouth. Sometimes we even just stop paying attention. In these turbulent days, respecting the dignity of every human being seems to be in question, seeking and serving Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself seem foolish. But we've also seen how love can change a situation, we've seen how a kind word, a compassionate act, can change the reality in which we live.
I heard a story, about a boy who responded to some teasing that was inflicted on him, not by being mean. Instead, he got to school early, and stood at the front door, holding it open as the students entered, greeting each one with a good morning. Soon, the students were greeting each other with smiles and hellos. Soon, the students were opening doors for each other all over the building. Soon the culture of the student body was changing.
Respond to God's claim on your heart and your life by opening doors for those around you, and you too, will change the world. Respond to God’s claim on your heart and your life by standing up compassion. Have courage, do not be afraid, listen, show up and show forth God's love. Amen.