I thought of the story of Samuel and his call as I read these words in Jeremiah. I Samuel 3:1b states, “In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” (NIV) Samuel mistook the voice he heard in the night as EIi's rather than God's. And, it took three trips to EIi's bedside before Eli realized Samuel was hearing the voice of God. The word of the Lord was rare in those days.
Today it seems the opposite -- there are too many who claim to have the word of the Lord. They, like Jeremiah, want to proclaim that what they say is the word of the Lord. Earthquakes and hurricanes have been interpreted as a word from the Lord. Their word does not always jive with Scripture which raises for me a question: ls God giving a new word? What is the word from the earthquake and hurricane?
Elijah (I Kings 19:11f) stood on a mountain and a great wind passed by (not the word of the Lord), then an earthquake (not the word of the Lord) and then a fire (but still not the voice of the Lord) -- then after the fire, “a gentle whisper” - the Word of the Lord. The Word of the Lord came as Elijah stopped and listened. The Word was a question, “What are you doing here?” (19:13). Elijah thought he was the only one who was faithful. He is told that he is not alone. The Word was one of assurance. The Word was one of hope. The Word was a call to Elijah to keep the faith.
Many Liturgical traditions conclude the reading of the Gospels with, “This is the Word of the Lord.” I wonder, do we really believe this? If this is the “Word of the Lord” why are many not living it out in our daily living? Should not our concern be for the famine and genocide in Africa?
NBC news reported on 9/1 that 29,000 children under the age of five have died from starvation this summer in one section of Africa alone. Does not the Gospel call us to care for the poor, the widows and the orphans? Not to mention the children in this country who spent their summer days in hunger - they are looking forward to school starting so they can get breakfast and lunch--which some want to cut.|
Several news articles this summer told of increased demands on food banks in our area. Calls to the church for help have almost doubled over the past months. Does the Word of the Lord say that our time should be spent in criticizing the party in power? Or, does it call us to work in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc.? What is the “Word of the Lord?”
I am proud of this congregation and the monthly response you give to the MLT Food Bank in both cash and food donations. You have responded well to the needs of victims around the world during natural disasters, etc., through the One Great Hour of Sharing and other offerings. You have responded well - thank you. Your have heard “the Word of the Lord.”
But, I wonder, is it time we begin to stand and let our voices be heard against those who hear a “Word of the Lord” that is not really the true Word of the Lord? Discerning requires listening. Are we listening? Or, “What are you doing here?”