United Presbyterian Church of West Orange



Rev. Mike Capron

June 3, 2018

1 Samuel 3:1-11


  1. 1 Samuel 3. It describes how Samuel learns about The Lord firsthand—and how it has clues how we can too.
  2. If you haven’t read chapters one & two lately, that could be a good devotional this week.
  3. After years of being unable to bear a child, Samuel’s momma was blessed to have a son. She dedicated him to serving God, dropped him off at the church sort of like it was a boarding school.
  4. Rev. Eli was in charge. As pastors go, he was kind of so-so. He was faithful, but he couldn’t control his two sons who worked for him. Among other things, they stole from the offerings. Good example of why churches shouldn’t hire members to be on staff.
  5. There was also that famous incident when Rev. Eli accused Samuel’s mother of being drunk. She turned to him and said, “I’m not drunk. I’m praying!”
  6. This is pretty much every pastor’s worst nightmare, so he shut up and started praying for her–when you bow your head, people can’t see how your face is flushed with embarrassment.
  7. After that bad beginning, they actually got to like each other over the years.
  8. That’s the backstory. In chapter 3, Samuel is a young boy. He’s living in the church. He’s just going to sleep when The Lord calls to him.
  9. The Lord knows his name. Always remember that. God knows each of us intimately. The Lord knows your name—and yours, and yours…

  10. The Lord says: “Samuel, Samuel!”
  11. And Samuel wakes up. He’s heard the voice. He thinks it is Eli.
  12. Pay attention to that. For a young child, the voice of the Lord sounds like someone in the church, or maybe a parent or grandparent.
  13. Whenever you speak to a young person, remember that you may represent God to them. You can shape their image of God in good ways—or in bad ways.
  14. So Samuel runs to Rev. Eli and says, “Here I am; you called me!”
  15. Rev. Eli rolls over and groans, “What? I didn’t call you. Go back to sleep.”
  16. This happens twice more until Rev. Eli suddenly gets it. He’s like, “Oh wait. God is speaking to a young person in my church.”
  17. That’s one of the dangers of being a pastor, especially one who has been at this a while. We run the risk of forgetting that God may do things in our church that we didn’t start and have nothing to do with.
  18. It’s almost like it’s God’s church; not ours. How about that?
  19. So Rev. Eli says this, “When you hear the voice of God, say this: ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”
  20. That’s good advice.
  21. You can also use it when you really need God to speak to you. Just sit quietly and focus on your breathing.
  22. On the inhale repeat that phrase, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ On the exhale, just pay attention to see what God says to you. See what direction your thoughts take, consider what moves you. Look especially for any longing for God, or longing for change in your life.
  23. Go with that. Lift it up to the Lord.
  24. This is good to do, because God is always doing new things.
  25. God told Samuel, “I am about to do something that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle.”
  26. When God is around, things don’t stay the same. There is a sense of movement, of dynamism, growth, transformation…
  27. Some churches are good at telling people: “You are welcome just the way you are.”—and that is an important attitude.
  28. But we also need to tell something else: “You won’t leave the same was you came.”
  29. This is about the worst mistake people make about God. If you think you can interact with God, worship God, serve God and not change you are mistaken.
  30. God brings life. And life always involves change.
  31. Too many people think God is something unchanging, like the Grand Canyon, or a statue or a church building. But those are just things.
  32. They don’t change. You don’t have a relationship with them.
  33. Even sacred objects are just objects.
  34. Hymnal, Bible… They only become real because we do something with them.
  35. Even the cross means nothing in and of itself.
  36. It only means something because God used it.
  37. God is like an author telling stories, wonderful stories.
  38. And God is inviting us to take part in those stories.
  39. We are invited into the story as participants, as characters. And characters in stories change and grow—or they are boring, lifeless characters.
  40. When we have this unusual story about Samuel, we are supposed to somehow see ourselves in it.
  41. And when we look at our lives, we think about this and all the other Bible stories and we find situations in our lives that match their situations and we apply what happened to them to our own lives… Well that’s called living faith, embodied faith, the story of faith.
  42. Anybody here ever done the improv exercise, “Yes and …”
  43. Somebody says something…
  44. And you are supposed to respond with “Yes and …” Then we keep building a shared story.
  45. So I say, “It is snowing outside.” and you say “Yes; it’s a good thing I brought my dog sled.”
  46. And I say, “Yes, and unfortunately there is a bear attacking the dogs.” And you say, “Yes and my dogs are trained bear fighters.”
  47. And I say, “Yes and that means we are eating roasted bear for dinner. I always have catsup with my roasted bear…”
  48. You get it, right?
  49. So I had this idea that we could turn ‘Yes and’ into a liturgical response.
  50. So I’m going to read some lines from the Bible, from 1 John 4, and instead of you saying “Amen” or “Praise God” or something. You say “Yes and”.
  51. Let’s try it out…    I’m going to point to cue you. (1 John 4:7-16)

Beloved, let us love one another,  YA

love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God YA

and they know God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. YA

God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. YA

10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. YA

11 since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. YA

12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us. YA

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. YA

14 we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. YA

  1. Yes and… and ‘what?’  That’s the question isn’t it?
  2. God has reached out to us in so many ways.
  3. God has invited us in through acts of creation, invited us through acts of redemption, especially in Christ, and invited us with the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit.
  4. God has invited us into God’s story.
  5. Like Samuel we have said: ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’
  6. Which is just a longer way of saying “Yes and”
  7. We know what the ‘Yes’ means.
  8. But we won’t know what the ‘And’ is, not until we leave this place and head back into the world. God will reveal our next steps in God’s own time.
  9. But here’s a clue. When God is involved, there is life, growth change. There is energy.
  10. Samuel had just begun his long, amazing journey of faith. He had said yes, but he didn’t know what the and would be.
  11. 67.             We don’t either. But can I get one more “Yes And?”