Potsdam United Methodist Church
Where we let Jesus shine! Where we invite, love and nurture ALL!
Sunday Worship
11:00am Service
Pastor Heidi R. Chamberlain
Information info@potsdamumc.org

Listen Stories

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January 18:

Listen Stories
Call:       1 Samuel 3: 1-10
Reading:    W&S # 56 (modified by me)
Text:       John 1: 35-51
Closing:    1 Corinthians 6:12

            Listen Stories

"Listen     my children and you shall hear
of the midnight ride of Paul Revere."

Poetry  Longfellow      19th century.

"Friends, Romans, countrymen,
Lend me your ears"

Play        Shakespeare         16th century.

Listening and hearing
have been themes in literature for centuries

Listening and hearing
    Have been themes in life    forever.

Not surprisingly,
    Listening and hearing
        Are themes in scripture
        Themes that are repeated over and over again.

And so, for the next several weeks - right up to Lent -
    You and I are going to encounter
        Scriptural stories
        All of which try to get across the idea that we need to listen and we need to hear our God.

Today we open with scriptures making it clear that
our relationship with God requires us to listen
and shows us how we can hear
But interestingly,   leave it up to us  to decide whether we will.

There is no better story about listening
    Than the story of the young Samuel that called us to worship.

I have loved this scripture for years

It points out to us that we need to listen,
But also that we need
    To be taught to listen
    To acquire experience in listening
And To be willing to listen

In terms of listening to God
which, of course, is what the story is all about -
we need to come to understand that God does speak to us
        through the voices of others
            and through the examples of others
        through subconscious prodding
        through scripture
        through music
        through somehow or the other
            stopping us from doing something
                that God does not want us to do
        or  getting us to do something
                that we are reluctant to do.

As I look back on my life, I see that at one time or another
    God has spoken to me in each of those ways.

Samuel was young, but it took me to my mid-forties
before I could recognize that God had spoken to me
And after that, I recognized it in earlier events in my life.

I suspect that many of us can relate to Samuel.

God was speaking to Samuel
    But Samuel didn't understand that it was God.
    Even though he had lived with, studied under, and worked for the priest Eli.

It was that priest that he thought was calling to him.
    In fact, three times he went to the priest and inquired
        "You called me?'

Twice, Eli simply said, "No."
On the third time, however, he realized what was happening

He told Samuel to listen and respond
And the willing Samuel listened and responded.

I am convinced that once he had experienced it
It was easier to recognize God's call
    In the future, for sure
    But also in incidents from his past

Incidents such as his mother praying for a son
    And promising, in turn, to give him back to God
A promise which she kept when the child was weaned,

This is why Samuel was with Eli
    And the time of God's call
Once Samuel had learned to listen
    I am sure that he saw
that all this was God's doing - not Hannah's

As the boy was trying to sleep,
    God called in the promise his mother had made
    And called Samuel to serve
        As priest and prophet.

This call came in God's time
When God thought Samuel was ready to do
    What God wanted him to do.

From my own experience I have
    That God sometimes calls us to be ready
    And then puts us on hold until that time.

Our next story leads us to that.

It is a story found in John's gospel,
    But not in the first three gospels
And yet its meaning is strengthened when it is read - and heard -
with stories in those other gospels -
especially the one on which Chris will be preaching next week

This story is of people meeting Christ
In the days after his baptism.

First, on the first day after the baptism
    John shares what he heard from the heavenly voice with representatives of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem     [John 1: 29-34]

Then, on the following day,
John testifies to a couple of his followers [John 1: 35-39]
Those disciples of John
    Lent him their ears
They listened to John and they heard what he said about Jesus.

And when they responded by following Jesus
    Jesus engaged them in a conversation
    And invited them to continue with him by saying
        "Come and see."

Well,   they went,      and they saw,   and they heard.

One of them was a man named Andrew
    Who went to his brother Simon
    Told him, "We have found the Messiah."
    And took him to meet Jesus  [John 1: 40-42]

Well,       Simon went,         and he saw,     and he heard.

And one day later,
    Another met,    saw, and    heard   Jesus   [John 1: 43-49]

And thus in this story,
    Andrew and Philip (probably the second disciple with John)
        Heard God's word through John

And then in an example of the role Jesus would out for us later in the Great Commission ,
They were witnesses and they made disciples

    Simon  heard through his brother
And Nathanael heard through Philip.

And thus, while all four listened to and heard it from Christ himself,
They initially heard it - or were taught to hear it -
Through and by the witness of other human beings.

Samuel learned to listen        through Eli
Andrew and Philip learned       through John
Simon and Nathanael learned through Philip and Andrew

You and I can and should learn to listen to God
And upon learning, we should slide into the teacher role
    So that others will learn through us.

In my trip to the pulpit,
I relate to both of these "Listen stories."

Like Peter and Andrew
    I had heard the voice, but was put on hold until I was ready
    And then,       when I was prepared,        I heard the call.
Like them I heard that call while I doing something else
    They were fishing and I was practicing law.

Like Samuel,
    I heard the voice, but did not recognize that it was God's
    He thought it was Eli's and I thought it was my own
        Until in a little chapel at Watson Homestead
        Already approved by the dCom and in licensing school
        I felt the tears streaming down my face as I sang
            "Because I Live."

Then I knew that the voice calling me to the pulpit
    Was God's - not mine.
I am glad that I listened.

I pray that Liam and Madelyn whom we baptize today
    Will learn to listen to and hear God's voice
    Perhaps through you     and/or me.