Beauty surrounds us, but we usually need to be walking in a garden to know it - Rumi
The theme of last Sunday’s readings, 1 Samuel 3:1-10 and John 1:43-end, is “calling”. Samuel’s call to his future ministry, serving God in a world where the worship of the One True God was ambivalent to say the least, and Jesus’ call to His disciples.
I know this is a subject that I have addressed before but I make no apologies for revisiting it, since I believe that at this time, perhaps more than ever, this turbulent world needs to hear God’s message of joy, of peace and of love.
In the previous week’s Gospel reading we learned of Jesus’ baptism. Now He starts His ministry but first needs to gather around Him those who will assist, learn, follow Him and carry on His mission after His death. And what an odd- ball bunch of humanity He chooses! People who follow Him on His exhausting journey round Galilee, cheering enthusiastically on His entry into Jerusalem and deserting him just as swiftly in His greatest time of trouble. Now before you sneer at them remember they were, like you and me only human. What would you have done? Remember too that after Jesus’ death and resurrection they were baptised with fire, as John the Baptist had foretold; baptised with the Holy Spirit. As a result of that baptism they were able to carry on Jesus’ mission to bring God’s message to the whole world.
At our baptism we too have received the Holy Spirit. Therefore we too are called to carry on Jesus’ mission on earth. That sounds a daunting prospect I know, but there are two points to bear in mind here. Firstly, whilst on our own we can do nothing, with faith in God anything is possible, and we have the Holy Spirit with us. The second and equally important point is that God does not expect us all to do great things. We are not all called to be one of the great Saints of old, or even St Teresa of Calcutta of our own day. We are, however, called to be what Father Peter referred in a recent sermon as saints with a lower case “s”. In other words our mission calls us all to do something for God however small that may be.
So what can we do today to show the world how much better a place it would be if instead of our present pursuit of power, fame and material wealth, God was, as St Paul puts it “Lord of All”? Well, we could start by showing in our own lives as Christians what scripture, in both the Old and New Testament, sets out quite clearly; we are to love God and our neighbour. And let us not forget that our neighbours are not just the folk who live next door, or attend our church or who look and think just like us, they are also those who perhaps we would rather not be associated with; the poor, the hungry, the refugee, the homeless drug or alcohol addict sleeping on the street. In other words those who we might find it difficult to like let alone love. Yet God loves each and every one of us unconditionally, and so this is our calling, to love our neighbour as God loves us. By loving our neighbour we show our love for God.
Here are two prayers I prepared for Sunday’s service you may like to use:
As Jesus called Philip and Nathaniel to follow Him, so we are called to be the Body of Christ. Make us worthy of that calling we pray, fervent in all our prayer and worship, loving, faithful and honest in our lives, so that the whole Church displays to the world what God is like. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We remember those of our sisters and brothers who, like Samuel, as yet have ‘no knowledge of the Lord’. We ask that they may come to know the safety and peace such knowledge can bring in this uncertain world. Comfort and heal all who suffer in body, mind or spirit; give them courage and hope in their troubles and bring them the joy of your salvation. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
And now may God bless you and walk with you on your life’s mission to love God and your neighbour.
Peter is a father and a grandfather who has been retired from full time employment for a number of years