As an adult, when I played Hide and go Seek with little children they would hide and I would be the one to seek them out. The little ones never really hid in very difficult places. In order to not find them at the very first, I would say something like, "Now where could Johnny be";
or "Where could Molly be? I don't know if I'm ever going to find him or her" as the case may be. But they wouldn't stay hidden because they'd immediately say, "Here I am!" They thought they were so well hidden that I couldn't find them and they wanted to help me out; they wanted to
stump me, but on the other hand they wanted to be found.
In the Genesis account of creation, after Adam and Eve have sinned and realized they were naked, they hide from God. But God calls out to them, "Where are you?" And they respond. In their hearts they know they can't hide from God.
In today's Old Testament lesson Samuel hears his name being called and thinks it's Eli calling him and he responds to Eli, "Here I am for you called me." After a couple times of this, Eli realizes that it is God calling Samuel and tells him the next time he hears his name being
called to answer, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." And that's what Samuel does and the Lord then tells him what he wants him to do.
We can't hide from the Lord. The Lord is calling. The Lord is calling us to a vision he has for his people.
Every one of us who is here today is here because the Lord called us to be here. Why are we here? We all have our reasons why we are here in this spot today. Maybe you were really on your way to breakfast and the wind blew you in. (At least you called it the wind, but in fact, it
was the Holy Spirit).
I'd venture to say that very few here think that they are here because the Lord called to them and asked them to be here. But here you are. You ARE here. Just like Samuel, you heard something, something called you here; whatever the reason you think you are here, that's what you
think is your reason as to why you are here this morning at this time and in this place.
In our story Eli tells Samuel that it is not him, Eli, calling-it is the Lord calling-and the next time he hears his name being called (his reason to show up at Eli's side), Samuel should answer, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
So, first I want all of you to say, "Here I am, Lord."
..(the congregation responds)
Now, ARE you here? Maybe you didn't catch what I said and didn't respond with "Here I am, Lord." Maybe you were caught up in other thoughts. Maybe you still are. Are you present? I mean, are you really here? Are your thoughts elsewhere? Your mind wandering? Awake? Drowsy? Drifting
off? (That usually only happens near the end of a semon!)
Wake up. You have to be fully present, here, now. So, let's try it again; repeat after me, "Here I am, Lord."
Now I want you to say, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
Let's try it again
.."Speak, for your servant is listening."
Okay, the Lord has called you here. You aren't here for the reason you thought you were here: "My spouse made me come here; my parents made me come here. I come here every Sunday' it's just sort of in my blood to come. It's a good habit." Whatever it is that you think brought you
here, that isn't the reason. The reason is that the Lord called you here this morning.
And now that you know that, now I want you to listen because the Lord is speaking to you, has a message for you. I'm just the instrument. I know this because when I preach a sermon, and folks comment on it, I wonder if they listened at all since their responses to me as they leave
are so different in what they heard or got out of the sermon. That's the Holy Spirit speaking to you, not me.
So the Lord called you here this morning. The Lord has a message for you in what I am going to say. You were called to be here, and the Lord will speak to you, and you will be sent from here with a purpose. You are a people called and sent.
God has spoken to you and given you a vision, and how you carry through on that vision is your mission. Trinity's Vision statement reads: As a gathered people in the name of Christ, we will "Seek a deeper relationship with God, Share the Good News with enthusiasm, Serve others, and
Send out Disciples in Christ's name." And Trinity's Mission Statement in how we are going to fulfill the Vision is: "We worship the risen Christ, Enthusiastically share the Gospel, Love and pray for all people, and Witness through our ministries."
God will speak to you to tell you how you should fulfill YOUR part of that vision and mission.
In my Vision statement that appeared in the December and January editions of our newsletter, THE HERALD, (and copies are on the table in the Narthex) I see us, over the next five years, becoming a congregation that is first very involved in Prayer Life; a congregation whose members
are excited, active and involved in the life of the congregation with a vision for the future that is alive and trusts in God; we will more and more become a congregation that trusts and believes that God will provide; we will be a congregation that more and more involves itself in
Bible Study; a people who are more and more committed to support of the church, its programs and its outreach; a congregation whose members and friends are very involved in family ministry and youth and children ministry.
That's just part of what the vision is. And what is YOUR part in that? You were called here this morning by the Lord. The Lord is speaking to you. Are you listening? Are you listening to what the Lord is telling you that needs to be accomplished here at Trinity, in Christ's Church,
in the name of Christ as part of the vision and mission of Trinity? Are you listening so that you can hear the Lord speaking to you, telling you what your part of fulfilling that vision and mission is?
The bulletin lists needs, especially right now we have great needs in the Sunday Church School for teachers to team teach in classes. There are board positions to be filled. There are committees that need members. There are needs that each one of you is called to fulfill-especially
to be messengers for the Lord. Not being ashamed to say the name of the Lord and invite others to Sunday Church School or worship. Are you listening? The Lord is speaking.
I was sitting around a table recently with a group of about 8 folks. They were all waxing eloquently about how Christmas was being taken over, pushed out of view by commercialism and by those who want to use the word "holiday" instead of Christmas. They had a lot to say about that
and how Christianity was under attack and how there are folks who want to see any reference to the word "God" removed from our coins and from our Pledge of Allegiance to the flag, and that prayer had been removed from schools. They had a lot to say but they were part of the problem.
Only one of them attended (and somewhat infrequently) a worship service. None of them read, let alone studied, the Bible. They quoted things that they attributed to the Bible but weren't words from the Bible.
You want to know why Christianity is under attack today? Because those who call themselves Christians are too embarrassed to take a stand or commit themselves to something. They are reluctant to even speak the name of the Lord in public. They don't really know what God the Father,
Son and Holy Spirit say to us through Scripture. Christianity is under attack only because so many have left the front lines. Basically they are deserters. They don't listen to the Lord calling and speaking to them and they retreat into their own little world of Christianity.
I don't care how much you think you do for Christ's Church, for this congregation. If you can't speak the name of the Lord in the presence of others you don't know, and can't share the love of the Lord with others you don't know, you are not listening to the Lord and you are not
fulfilling what the Lord has called you to do. It's in our Vision and Mission statement: Share the Good News with enthusiasm; enthusiastically share the Gospel.
You were called to be here today. You can just sit back and take it all in and not let it sink in and then walk out of here feeling all good inside, but really, if you don't do more than that, you are basically rejecting the Lord, rejecting what the Lord has called you to do.
So, read Trinity's Vision and Mission statements that are on the front of every HERALD issue (and on our website) and see how you are fulfilling those statements. You need to be fulfilling each line, not just one or two of the lines.
And read my Vision for Trinity for the next 5, 10, 15 years. What part of that are you fulfilling? How are you making that vision come true in your life and in the life of this congregation? CATCH THE VISION! You were called by the Lord to be here and now you're being sent out to
fulfill the purpose the Lord has for you.
Listen, the Lord is calling. Listen, the Lord is speaking. Listen, the Lord is inviting. Listen, and respond "Here I am, Lord. Speak, for your servant is listening." Then, follow through on what you have been called to do.