Come and See!  Follow Me!

And the Recognition and Installation of Assembly Leaders

Jackson Snyder 

 

 

1 Samuel 3:1-11, John 1:43-51, Psalms 139

Acts of Worship: All Because of God’s Amazing Grace 354, Prayer of Hanna, Jesus Calls Us O’er the Tumult

 

Hannah and Samuel I

   Hannah and Samuel, two college seniors, fell in love and decided to get married.  The only obstacle was religion.  Hannah was Catholic; her father was a wealthy assembly
 deacon.  Sam was Jewish, but not too.  When Hannah told Daddy about their plans, Daddy loudly protested: unless Sam converted to Catholicism, he would disown her.  Sam didn’t have any money of his own and, as a philosophy major, probably never would.  Hannah boo-hooed Daddy for an hour, but to no avail.

   Sam wasn’t really religious, so when the question was put to him, he agreed to convert immediately.

   Now you don’t just join up with the Catholic assembly
 like you do ours.  There are catechism classes and lots of praying, soul searching and Bible reading.  The Catholics expect a serious commitment.  Through the process of his conversion, Sam began to hear the voice of Jesus calling to him.  After all, wasn’t Jesus a Jew named Yahshua of Nazareth?   Pretty soon Sam answered Jesus’ call and his life was changed.  He was baptized a Catholic and Sunday morning he received his first communion.  Hannah couldn’t have been happier and more expectant!  They could now be married with Daddy’s blessing and money.  Sam and Hannah celebrated after the service at a fancy restaurant.

   But that night, Hannah went running to Daddy again in a fit, crying and squalling.  “Daddy, Sam told me this afternoon he could no longer marry me and it’s all your fault!  I hate you, Daddy!  I hate you!”  Daddy was stunned.  “My fault?  What do you mean?  Sam’s a good Catholic now so nothing stands in your way!”

   “But Daddy, that’s the problem!” Hannah bawled.  “If you hadn’t called him into assembly
 with all that praying and stuff, then Jesus wouldn’t have called him – into the priesthood.  Wah! Wah! Wha!”

 

   Hearing the L-rd’s call is of great importance; and everyone may hear his voice.  But answering the call forces the probability that your plans may change drastically.

 

Hannah and Samuel II  

   There’s another Hannah we know who’s made of sterner stuff.  She’s one of the great Bible matriarchs.  Her story is found in First Samuel 1 & 2.  She was married to Elkanah, a devout and well-to-do young man.  In this case there wasn’t the problem of different religions; but Hannah was barren and became the object of scorn.  Though he loved her, Elkanah took a second wife because he had plenty of stuff and thought he needed an heir. 

   In the meantime, Hannah developed a personal relationship with Yahweh, who had called her years earlier and loved her.  He granted her petitions, and she conceived.  She names her boy Samuel, which means, “I asked Elohim.”  In her gratitude, Hannah dedicates Samuel’s life to Yahweh.  So when Samuel is weaned, he’s given over to an elderly temple priest named Eli as an apprentice.  Eli already has two grown sons in the priesthood who fully expect their father’s office when he passes on.  But Eli’s sons are corrupt and disrespectful of Yahweh.  Eli is fully aware of their dirty business.  Scripture says Yahweh wanted to kill them all.  That’s why his voice was no longer heard there. 

  Scripture also says, “the child Samuel grew in stature and in favor both with Yahweh and with the people” (1 Samuel 2:26).  It’s nearly dawn and the boy’s sleeping in the temple sanctuary.  The Ark of the Covenant is nearby and the menorah lamps are consuming their last drops of oil, casting a flickering light over the sacred place.

 

Samuel, Eli and Yahweh

   The boy awakens when he hears his name: “Samuel.  Samuel.”  Half asleep, he whispers, “Here I am.”  He’s used to being called at all hours because Eli’s blind.  Samuel runs to the old man to see what he wants.  But Eli tells him to go back and lie down.  “I didn’t call you.”  It all happens again; this time, Eli tells Samuel that if he hears the voice again, say, “Speak, O Yahweh; your servant is listening.”

   Eli knows Yahweh’s voice from years back.  But Yahweh doesn’t speak to him anymore because of his sons.   Samuel, on the other hand, is only twelve years old.  He’s never heard Yahweh’s voice nor had a vision.  Nor does he even know that Yahweh speaks, since he’s been silent for years.  The boy only knows the ritual – the lighting of lamps, singing of psalms, administrative meetings, butchering sacrificial animals.  The personal aspects of time, talent, gifts and service are lacking in the temple administration of Eli and Sons.  Yahweh has abandoned the big shots in favor of Hannah’s boy.

   Samuel returns to his pallet and drifts off to sleep.  “Samuel.  Samuel.”  The voice beckons.  Remembering his instructions, Samuel, with great trepidation, addresses his god; saying, “Speak, O Yahweh, your servant listens.”   This is good news.  There’s been a spiritual breakthrough in that shadowy little room.  Yahweh tells the boy, “Watch, I’m going to do something in Israel that will make everyone’s ears tingle!”  And he calls on the boy to spread the good news.

 

Significance of Yahweh’s Words to Samuel

   Yahweh’s word and Samuel’s response way back then are significant to us now for a couple reasons.  First, Samuel’s calling to the Judgeship of Israel precipitates David’s calling to the Kingship of Israel.  David (in turn) is the forerunner of  Messiah, who appears eight hundred years later.  The Messiah tore away the temple curtain, allowing all people access to the awesome throne room of Yahweh’s glory.  Now we all may hear His voice, be his voice as loud as a trumpet in the ear or as soft as a whisper in the heart.  All because of young Samuel, who chose to respond to that voice.  His few little words, “Your servant listens,” caused the entire course of salvation history to turn us-ward, five thousand miles distant and twenty-eight hundred years later.  Yahweh said he was going to make the ears of Israel tingle, but in fact, the ears of the entire world were opened.

   Another reason Samuel’s response is significant today is in regards to our own future.  We’re consumed by living in the past and present.  But we should pay more heed to what our response to Yahweh’s call could mean to the future – of our families, our assembly
, our nation.  What you hear and respond to today could well have significant consequences on the next seven generations – for the next 280 years, if He tarries.  That’s a long time, but I’m particularly interested in the history of this assembly
 for the next twenty years.  Young and old alike must heed the calling of Yahweh and thus insure our posterity in the faith.  If we heed him now, we’ll see our heritage; for though we may die, we will yet live to see.

  

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Jesus Calls Us

   Samuel heard Yahweh’s voice directly, but there’s a more common way.  In our Gospel text, Jesus has been hanging around with John the Baptist somewhere out in the Judean wilderness.  He decides to head home to Galilee.  (You’ll remember that John had introduced him to the flock as “The Lamb of G-d,” “the one who is to come.”)   Jesus meets a fellow Galilean on the road named Philip, and says, “Follow me.”  Jesus wasn’t just giving directions.  The command to follow meant, for Philip, joyful obedience, stern discipleship and service to humanity.

   See, Jesus calls Philip and Philip is expecting a call from G-d.  That’s why Philip was out in the country in the first place.  He goes to Nathaniel and tells him about his ‘call’ to follow, but when Nathaniel hears that Jesus comes from Podunk, he says, “Can anything good come out of that stink hole?”  Philip replies, “See for yourself.”  Honestly, the call from Yahweh may come to you through just about anyone, even someone from Podunk.  Jesus tells Nathaniel something nobody else could have possibly known and Nathaniel flips out, immediately testifying to the lordship of Jesus.

  

   Just like Al Jolsson in The Jazz Singer, Jesus tells him, “Well, brudda, you think that’s sumpthin’, but you ain’t seen nuttin’ yet!  Before we’re done, you’ll see angels ascending and descending.” 

   These people like Samuel, Philip and Nathaniel were all listening for a voice!  When they listen to this man Jesus, they hear the voice of G-d.  Their decision to listen and follow radically affects the rest of their lives, their families, their nations and the future.  Do you realize that because a few people heeded the voice of the little man from Nazareth then, millions today enjoy personal fellowship with the Creator of the Universe.  The decisions of a few to say “Hear I am” changed the course of the entire world, allowing us in our day to enjoy this golden age in which the blessings of Yahweh flowing like a river of oil and his voice is heard continually and unsparingly by as many as will hear.

 

Men and Women Are Called

   And now, though times have changed as have the sound of Yahweh’s voice, the message remains the same forever: “Come and see; follow me!”   I’m one of those people who’ve said yes when, at a very tender age, he called my name.  And now, as I’m about to go over the hill for the second time, I continue to challenge the beloved of Yahweh daily to “Come and see; follow me.”  Follow me to the feet of Jesus, to the throne of the Almighty. 

   Some of you have heard and heeded the voice when your name was called.  You might have heard his voice from on high or it may have sounded through the invitation of a Philip or a Peter or a Jesus, or some godly Sunday School teacher or a pastor or father or mother or even some stranger.  “Come and see; follow me.”  You’ve answered, “Here I Am!”  Though for most, you didn’t heed the first call or even the second call, but the Great Spirit didn’t give up on you and called you yet again.  Then you said yes or no.  To those who keep saying no, he’s calling you again right now.  “Beloved!  Come and see!  Follow me!”  Now can you hear his call?

 

Called to Judgment

     You see, Yahweh knows you better than you know yourself.  Don’t think you can possibly hide anything from him.  What the Psalmist prayed is true for you, too.  He prayed:

Psalms 139:1-5 Yahweh, you examine me and know me, you know when I sit, when I rise, you understand my thoughts from afar. You know every detail of my conduct. You fence me in; you have laid your hand upon me.

   Hey, you can’t escape from his presence; you can’t hide from his holiness; you can’t run from his Spirit, which covers the earth like the air you breath.  You can’t turn your hearing aid down low enough.  He knows absolutely everything about you and he’s going to judge you based on what he knows.  Some have already faced judgment by hearing and heeding.  Others will face judgment pretty soon.  We’re all dying by inches; some by miles.  You have an advantage if you learn you have but a month to live.  In that case, if he calls you again, it’s pretty easy to recognize the voice and affirm it. 

   Pity those instead who don’t know when they’ll die and so reject the call, thinking they’ll certainly be allowed a death bed confession.  Jesus talks about this class of fools a number of times.  In one instance, he tells the story of:

Luke 12:16-20 A certain man [who] thought, “I’ve got to make room for all my stuff.  I’ll tear down the barn and build it bigger then I’ll have room.  Yes, I’m retired; I’ve laid back enough stuff to last the rest of my life so I’m going to take it easy; eat drink and be merry.  Now that’s real living!”  But G-d said to him, “You stupid fool.  Tonight your life is required!” 

Having rejected his invitation three times previously, imagine having to accept his judgment now!

 

Three Chances

   I attended the School of Philanthropy at United Way Headquarters in Arlington Virginia once upon a time.  Philanthropy is a fancy word for raising money, and that’s what I was there to learn.  Herb Russo, one of the most successful fund raising executives in history, was the head of the school.  Herb said, “I’m never afraid to ask someone for money.  I figure everybody deserves a chance to give to a good cause.  In fact, I give everyone I ask three chances to say no.”  Think about that for a minute.  “Three chances to say no.”

   The Father knows and loves each of us enough to give us chance after chance to say ‘no’ if we will.  He knows (and you should consider the inescapable fact) that the day will dawn in which your life is required.  After that, we all know there’s no chance anymore.  There’s only justice.  Even G-d can’t change the fact that a sinner will die in his sins.  But for those who have said yes, a glorious and meaningful future is planned.

 

Your Calling

   Your calling may have come via the voice of the Almighty himself or through any one of servants – the Sunday School teacher, the godly parent or grandparent, the evangelist, the stranger.   Most here have heard me call you to His service with His permission and anointing many times over.  Maybe your call came through merely observing the life a Christian you knew.  Maybe it came through reading a Bible or tract.  Maybe your call came through circumstances: he saved your life or answered your prayer or made you feel loved.  And maybe you’re being called right now through your assembly
 membership or your election or appointment to a position of leadership in the assembly
.  When the assembly
 calls you to give your time, talents, gifts and service through its institutions for the greater glory of Jesus, then the Almighty’s voice is most assuredly putting you to a task.

   Today we recognize and solemnly install our assembly
 council members, our fearless leaders, without whom Yahweh’s grand design for our future as a assembly
 couldn’t become a reality.  Here are people who’ve said ‘yes’ time and time again, providing you with sure examples of what it really means to be a Christian.  Will you recognize them with me today?

 

(Here is placed “An Order for the Installation or Recognition of Leaders in the assembly,” UM Book of Worship 599)

 

January17, 2003