This is an approximation of last Sunday's sermon. I worked off of notes so I added some parts and skipped others. You, of course, are invited to visit us this next Sunday at 9:15. We pretty much always have room for a few more people. We often have a dog in attendance. She is included in the count! Hope to see you there.
When I first read through these readings on Monday I thought to myself this is about being called by God. I need to talk about this. I must confess, I have spent a lot of my life trying to decide if God is calling me to something or I have some other motivating factor.
This reading from Samuel reminds me of the old testament reading that was done at my ordination. The reading was Isaiah 6:1-8 and the reason I chose that reading was because it says at the very end, “Here am I, send me.” In this reading the Lord says, “Samuel, Samuel” and Samuel says, “Speak your servant is listening.”
In the Psalm for today it starts out, “Lord, you have searched me out and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up. You discern my thoughts from afar.”
In Corinthians Paul says, “Do you not know that the body is a temple of the holy spirit within you.”
And finally in the gospel reading Philip says to Nathaniel, “we have found the messiah, come and see.”
In all of these readings we are told God is in us. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. God is calling us to do great things.
When you start thinking about becoming a priest the diocese requires that you form a discernment committee. The purpose of the committee is to decide if you are being called to the priesthood. There are a lot of steps and I understand why they have them.
I wish that the Lord or maybe one of his angels had come to me in a vision or a dream and said you are to become a priest. But, that didn't happen. I am pretty sure it rarely happens. When I was a kid I thought about becoming a priest and I was told you have to be called by God. Young people tend to think concretely more than in the abstract so as a child I figured there would be some miraculous event that would propel me to the priesthood if it was to happen and.... it didn't.
I think God calls us to a lot of things but we don't always pick up the phone. I am not just talking about careers or vocations. I am talking about our everyday lives. Sometimes we don't pick up the phone because we believe we know all the answers. I remember when I graduated from UNI with a degree to teach social studies I sent out a gazillion resume's and did not get one response. I ended up working as a clerk for the railroad in Waterloo. I continued sending out resumes for several years with the same result.
Finally, one day I was sitting at my desk and I was engaged in a conversation with the chief clerk. He said, “my daughter just got a job teaching special ed and there seem to be a lot of openings.” That afternoon I went to the special ed department at UNI and asked the department head if she new if there were any openings to teach special ed in the area. She said, “Sure! I can get you a job teaching special ed tomorrow at East Waterloo Junior High. I responded that I had never taken any classes in special ed and she said, “you're German aren't you?” I said,”yes”. She said, You'll be alright then.”
I decided to take a more cautionary approach and I enrolled in some classes and before long I was getting calls from Superintendents asking if they could interview me. I stayed in special education for thirty two years. Social studies teachers are a dime a dozen but good special ed teachers are hard to find. I answered the call.
I believe that every day of our lives we are called by God to do things. It may be opening the door for someone. It may be telling someone you love, how you feel. It could be bringing treats for everyone after Sunday worship. I think God calls us a lot about a lot of things. We just need to pick up that phone.
Forest Gump and St. Peter
When Forest Gump died, he stood in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates. St. Peter said, "Welcome, Forest. We've heard a lot about you." He continued, "Unfortunately, it's getting pretty crowded up here and we find that we now have to give people an entrance examination before we let them in."
"Okay," said Forest. "I hope it's not too hard. I've already been through a test. My momma used to say, 'Life is like a final exam. It's hard.' "
"Yes, Forest, I know. But this test is only three questions. Here they are."
1) Which two days of the week begin with the letter 'T'?"
2) How many seconds are in a year?
3) What is God's first name?
"Well, sir," said Forest, "The first one is easy. Which two days of the week begin with the letter 'T'? Today and Tomorrow."
St. Peter looked surprised and said, "Well, that wasn't the answer I was looking for, but you have a point. I give you credit for that answer."
"The next question," said Forest, "How many seconds are in a year? Twelve."
"Twelve?" said St. Peter, surprised and confused.
"Yes, sir. January 2nd, February 2nd, March 2nd …"
St. Peter interrupted him. "I see what you mean. I'll have to give you credit for that one, too."
"And the last question," said Forest, "What is God's first name? It's Andy."
"Andy?" said St. Peter, in shock. "How did you come up with 'Andy'?"
"I learned it in church. We used to sing about it." Forest broke into song, "Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am His own."St. Peter opened the gate to heaven and said, "Run, Forest, Run!"