Tuesday, January 12, 2016

You Called Me

The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” 1 Samuel 3:8-9

Simon and those who were with him pursued him and on finding him said, “Everyone is looking for you.” He told them, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.” Mark 1:38-39

Here I Am, Lord by John Michael Talbot

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in dark and sin,
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them?
Whom shall I send?

Here I am Lord, Is it I Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go Lord, if You lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

My father’s experience as a sailor on the destroyer USS Charles R. Ware in the Navy rubbed off on me when growing up.  One of the lessons that he taught was how to read the skies.  The proverb went like this:  “Red sky at night is a sailor’s delight.  Red sky in the morning is a sailor’s warning.”  The appearance of the sky during sunrise and sunset can anticipate what weather will follow that day. 

In rhetoric, a speaker calls your attention to something that is about to happen by sending up a signal flag for you to notice what is going to come around the corner.  The late President Ronald Reagan popularized the flag: “Let me make this perfectly clear.”  Like predictive skies, such rhetorical flags can be good or bad.  In both readings today, we have flags.

In the reading from the Hebrew Bible, after calling Samuel three times, the Lord announces that: “I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears it ring.”  Pay attention.  The Lord called Samuel three times just like he will commission Peter three times. Buckle your seat belt because Jesus is going to start rocking the traditions of his community.

In Mark’s Gospel, the healing of Peter’s mother-in-law is the microcosm that predicts the larger mission work which Jesus will fulfill.  The Advent season of anticipation is past.  The Christmas season of birth/rebirth has been celebrated.  Now we await the fulfillment of the covenant in these “extra-ordinary” times. “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose have I come.”

When I have been in Italy, one puzzling habit to get used to is understanding how Italians answer the phone.  If you are in café, the cell phones around will buzz with their personal ringtones and the person answering will say, “Pronto!” They do not answer and say “Ciao!” which we commonly understand to mean “Hello.”  It’s like answering your phone here and saying, “OK…you called me.  Quickly tell me what you want me to do.”  That takes much longer than a simple, “Pronto!”  Ready, set, speak to me.

The Lord is awaiting our “pronto.”  He wants us to be ready to listen and then act upon what he says.

Who will bear the Lord’s light to the sick, to the poor and to people with disabilities?  Are you prepared to answer?  “Here I am.  Use me to perform your works.”

I do not mean typing “Amen” after those stories are posted on Facebook.  I mean sharing your real time, talent and treasure for purposes that go beyond your will and fulfill the Lord’s will. You called me Lord.  I am ready. 

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