This week's Old Testament Reading is an important one for people of faith, especially for those who are seeking direction and a new sense of possibility in relationship to the Living God.
Samuel, the son of Hannah, has been dedicated to the service of YHWH as was typical of first born male children in Judaism as it was practiced in his time.
Part of the story has to do with how the life of the People of God had grown stagnant due to a relative lack of God's speaking to and inspiring to Israel about their call and purpose as they lived out the covenant made between them and YHWH.
Water is kept from becoming stagnant when it is kept in motion. Our Baptismal Font at St. Mark's is a good physical reminder of the importance of water in motion. Remember that Jesus referred to the water we receive from him like this, "The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. (1989). (Jn 4:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Part of the life of a healthy and faithful parish is a commitment to keep seeking the next chapter in its life. We are called to fight against stagnation and to keep the water moving.
Life at St. Mark's is not stagnant, but we are part of a tradition in America that has, in some ways, gone stagnant. The expectation of Churches to each be housed in independent, single use buildings is bleeding many small and medium sized congregations dry financially and in terms of the energy of the congregation to support the building.
Often the support of the building comes at a cost to ministry to those who are outside the church's wall. The Most Rev. William Temple, former Archbishop of Canterbury, once said, "the church is the only organization that I know of that exists primarily for those who are not its members."
To live into this promise it is important that we return again and again to the promises of Baptism to be of service to others, seek justice, respect dignity, participate in the apostles teaching and fellowship, the breaking of the bread and the prayers, and repent and return to God when we screw up.
As we continue on our listening, prayer, discernment and commitment to God's call for us may we all remember to be bold in asking for the fullness of God's vision to be revealed in the spirit of Eli's request to Samuel in the text quoted above this reflection