Welcome (1 Samuel 3:1-10)

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. The word of the LORD was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called, "Samuel! Samuel!" and he said, "Here I am!" and ran to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down. The LORD called again, "Samuel!" Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. The LORD called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you called me." Then Eli perceived that the LORD was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.'" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the LORD came and stood there, calling as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

Preparation: Make me a servant

Call to Worship

Before we were born, God knew us.
God knit us together in the womb.
God searches out our paths, and tracks us along our way.
So we praise God, for we are fearfully and wonderfully made.
There is nowhere we can go where God is not with us.
How wonderful are all God’s works! Let us worship God together.    

Hymn: I the Lord of sea and sky

Prayers of Adoration and Confession

God ever creating, ever loving, ever leading,
You are stillness when we are frantic;
You are truth when we are perplexed.
You give us freedom when fear takes hold;
You send light when we have lost our way.
You are love when we feel lonely and empty;
You give us energy when we are ready to reach out.
We praise you, Creator, Christ, Spirit,
for all that you are, all that you have been, and all that you will be for us.
In our worship we offer you our love and loyalty,
here and now, now and always.

God of mercy and patience, 
you call us to follow you
and offer us purpose and new possibilities. 
Yet we confess we often hesitate.
We are not sure what we have to offer you. 
We’d prefer that someone else take the lead
and maybe we will follow them.
Forgive us when we hesitate. 
Help us trust in you
and what you know we have to offer in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Scripture: John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, "Follow me." Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, "We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth." Nathanael said to him, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Philip said to him, "Come and see." When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, "Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!" Nathanael asked him, "Where did you get to know me?" Jesus answered, "I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you." Nathanael replied, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" Jesus answered, "Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these." And he said to him, "Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Sermon: Call

How does God call us? Does God use voice? Words in the Bible? Burning fire that does not consume? In a dream?

God’s call for Abraham was straight forward. God told Abram to go away to the land God would show him. This was the call for Abraham and Sarah to journey in the world for the rest of their lives. God called Moses when Moses saw a strange sight of a burning bush that was not being totally consumed. Moses approached it and God spoke to Moses. Gideon was minding his own business when God called him. Later we read that God continually called various people to be God’s prophets.

This morning, we read two very different ways God called God’s servants. In Samuel’s case, things were a bit murky for Samuel. He could not recognize who was calling him first. He thought it was Eli. Eventually it dawned on Eli that God was calling Samuel. I wonder what would have happened if Eli never came to discern that it was God and simply dismissed Samuel. In that case I can easily imagine that young Samuel would have trusted his mentor and would have not paid attention to the voice as being from God.  Of course we may also imagine that God would have made Samuel understand. However, it is curious for us to note that God’s voice was very unclear both to Samuel and Eli at the beginning.

God’s voice must have sounded so much like any human voice. Otherwise how do we explain Samuel’s confusion? Also it must have been fairly quiet in tone. No thunder or dramatic shouting. Eli and others near Samuel could not hear. Only Samuel heard. This gentle quiet voice was much softer than other voices that Samuel could not distinguish the voice clearly enough. God was almost stealth in coming only to Samuel. God did not come to anyone else in the dark of night.

I can easily imagine how confusing God’s voice would be for us too. God may be calling us, but we may not hear God’s voice because we cannot distinguish it from anyone else’s. How, then, could we know it as God’s voice? Here is this notion of what discerning is all about. Sometimes, it is impossible for each of us to know that it is God’s voice that is calling us. Someone has to help us so that we may respond and find out truly if it is God’s voice or just sounds that grab our attention. If it is God’s voice calling, then, when we respond, as Samuel found out, we will be told of God’s will.

In Nathaniel’s case, his calling seemed to have begun a long time before we see him in this passage from John. According to Jesus, he was truly an Israelite. Yes, he was part of the people who lived in covenant with God. Before he met Jesus, however, he was invited to meet Jesus by Philip. Since Nathanael knew the Scriptures, he was very sceptical. He knew there was nothing in the Scriptures that told him a messiah would come from Nazareth. He did not know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He responded to Philip who told him that Jesus was a son of Joseph of Nazareth.

Then he encountered Jesus. Here in this interaction of Jesus and Nathanael, we see that Jesus spoke in ways that he already knew who Nathanael was. Remember that Jesus already called Philip to follow him. Nathanael was sceptical because he knew that according to the Scriptures he knew their messiah would not come from Nazareth. He needed to be sure. His question was very concise and practical. When did Jesus know him? He certainly did not know Jesus. Yet, when Jesus was able to identify where he was before he met Jesus, he no longer needed to question. Rather he confessed that Jesus was God’s Son.

The strangest thing was yet to come. Nathanael was sure, but the passage itself did not describe Nathanael as following Jesus immediately. Instead, what we see is that Jesus told him what would happen to those who would follow Jesus. By this we are to understand that Nathanael, like Philip, followed Jesus from this encounter. After all, who else but those who followed Jesus would be able to confess that Jesus was the Son of God? This confession was uniquely Christian and only possible for Christians. No one who did not, does not and will not believe will be able to confess that Jesus is the Son of God, indeed.

The result of God’s call in all cases is the public confession that Jesus is the Son of God. Yes, saying that Jesus is the Son of God is simple, but in a way, it is a declaration not only of who Jesus is, but also who we are. Only those who are called can confess truly that Jesus is the Son of God. You see, with this confession comes the reality of who we are, what we do, when we do what we do, why we live the way we do and how we live in this world. The true confession comes not only through words, but also through our behaviours and ways of being. In this confession we find who we are. We no longer belong to this world, but to God who sent Jesus Christ

The call to Samuel also led Samuel to serve God his whole life long. With the call that was given through his friend Philip, Nathanael ends up witnessing far more than he ever dreamt in his entire life. The call, in other words, changes everyone who says it and hears it. New sight is gained. The new world as God unfolds in this world is revealed to those who respond to the call. Receiving the call leads us to this new creation which is revealed as the promise that was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This new insight leads us to live a life of loving God and neighbours in ways that God is glorified and enjoyed fully.

Are you still in the stage of trying to answer the call from God? How did God’s call affect you? When did God call you and how did you respond? Has your life changed? Are you living the life in ways that who you are and how you live confess to the world Jesus is the Son of God? Does your confession reflect your wisdom that compels you to say Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of God indeed, the risen Lord, who is with us now and will be with us continually?

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Intercession

God of life, in your grace, you promised us through your Son that our prayer will be heard. With gratitude we approach you with our prayers. O God, through our words hear also the prayers of those who are in many different places facing different challenges.

We remember before you people living face to face with war and violence, where death and despair rule their lives. They are powerless to stop those evil ones who assault them with hatred that dehumanizes and crushes human spirits by stirring up fears. In the meantime, so many are displaced from their homes and lands. As refugees, they do their best to survive while others trample on their dignity. Their lives are decimated and face suffering without end. We pray that you will be with them. Be their strength and shield in this difficult time.

We remember before you people struggling in these uncertain economic times. So many are trying to improve their economic condition. They search for jobs. Without prospects of jobs so many are worried and are unable to make their ends meet. As they do their best in finding jobs, give them a word of assurance. Embrace them with your love so that they may gain strength to continue without despairing.

We remember before you all those who are living in situations of discrimination, ridicule, indifference and disdain. They are haunted, assaulted and bullied in ways that most cannot imagine. Sometimes, many of us turn our eyes away rather than stand with them. Help them to live with faith and hope. May they know that you are with them. Help us to stand with them always. Pour upon them your love.

We remember before you those people facing illness and suffering in their lives
or in the lives of those they love, those struggling with disability and lack of access or needed resources, and those who know grief or anxiety:
God, speak to them a word of healing:
Embrace them with your love.

Now, joining our voices to Jesus’ followers around the world, we pray the words he taught us:
The Lord’s Prayer

Offering/Offering Prayer


Annual Meeting: Sunday, January 28 following the service of worship

Valentine Dinner on Saturday, February 10 at 5 pm
Our annual Valentine Dinner will be taking place on Saturday, February 10 at 5 pm. The cost is $25. This is a fundraiser to do Christ’s ministry. Please mark the date. Invite your neighbours and friends. Tickets will be on sale soon.

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper on Tue. Feb. 13, 4 pm-6 pm
This all you can eat Pancake Supper is back on Tuesday, Feb. 13. The cost is $5.

Hymn: Will you come and follow me