MESSAGE 14th January – 2nd Sunday after EPIPHANY– YEAR B
THEME: the call of God and our response to it
These readings show how God calls different people in different ways, and how they respond with faith and obedience.
WAYS THAT GOD APPROACHES US
The first way is in the reading from the Book of Samuel. Here we have the God who comes to us in the silences.
Silence is golden, but our air is thick with noise. Cars, trains, planes, busses, loudspeakers/music in shopping centres, music while we are ‘on hold’ on the telephone.
Noise can become a problem. Little Samuel had no such problem. Samuel was the child-servant of the priest Eli, or apprentice priest if you prefer that, living and working in the ancient temple at Shiloh, in what was later known as Samaria.
In 1 Samuel 3.1-10, we read the story of how God called Samuel, the young boy who served under the priest Eli. God spoke to Samuel in the night, but Samuel did not recognize his voice at first. He thought it was Eli who called him, and he ran to him three times. Eli realized that it was God who called Samuel, and he instructed him to say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” When God called Samuel again, Samuel responded as Eli told him, and God revealed his word to him.
This reading shows how God calls us through his word, and how we need to listen and respond to his voice.
Silence is one of the ways in which God can approach us, address us, soothe us, stir us, call us, and renovate us. In the silence the Word can speak. Because silence does not come readily in our noisy, frenetic world, it takes self-discipline to create space and silence in our lives. If we are not inclined towards self-discipline, then let us not complain about the apparent absence of God. Silence cannot be found without some effort on our part.
Psalm 139 concentrate on God’s intimate knowledge of us. Here is a picture of a God who approaches us continually. Our path, our words, our thoughts, are all searched by the Living God. From the time of conception in our mother’s womb, God is with us, coming with precious thoughts for our welfare; thoughts more numerous than the sand of desert or sea shore.
This approach by God is not limited to set locations; not just at sacred sites, holy temples, or in the hours set for public worship. With full poetic flight, the Psalm writer sings of the God who comes to us no matter where we are.
Paul suggests another place where God comes to us: within our own being. “Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit.” Now that is bold! Paul is referring to their/our individual bodies. Each of them is a temple where God is prepared to reside.
In 1 Corinthians 6.12-20, we hear the words of Paul, who addressed the issue of sexual immorality among the Christians in Corinth. Paul reminded them that they were called by God to be his holy people, and that their bodies were temples of the Holy Spirit. He warned them not to misuse their freedom and their bodies, but to honour God with their lives. He said, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore Honour God with your bodies.”
This reading shows how God calls us to be his children and his witnesses, and how we need to respect and glorify him with our actions.
IN CHRIST JESUS
The Gospel reading from John for this Sunday, follows on from that moment when John the Baptiser points to Jesus and says: “Behold the Lamb of God.” From that time on disciples are drawn to Jesus. We read about the calling of Andrew, Simon Peter, Philip, Nathaniel, and others not named as yet.
In John 1.43-51, we witness the call of Philip and Nathanael by Jesus. Jesus found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Philip followed Jesus, and he also found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” Nathanael was skeptical, and he said, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip said, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael, he praised him for his honesty and his faith. He also revealed his identity and his mission to him, saying, “You will see greater things than that. You will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” This reading shows how God calls us through his Son, and how we need to follow and trust him with our hearts.
“Philip said to [Nathanael], ‘Come and see.’” Note that the invitation here is not to come and see the church, or our good works or good people; no, it is to come and see, come and experience Jesus
For Christians, God’s incomparable approach is through Jesus. Nothing equals this. Nothing is more certain, or more reliable. The words and deeds, and the unique person of Jesus, have been for many generations a veritable highway for the coming of God into human experience.
God does approach us, in many ways. Many more than I have touched on today. You and I are most fortunate people, we can be open to these divine approaches without caution, for we have Christ to audit our experience; to help us grasp the authentic and reject any false hopes or unworthy fears. Trust him and all will be well.
Speak Lord, for your servants are listening, Amen!