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. -1 Samuel 3:1
Because of the wise men following the bright star, readings in Epiphany often mention light or vision. This Sunday we will hear about the old priest, Eli, "whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see." He's been the priest at the temple for decades, but he has begun closing down to God, his faithful insight becoming dim. In fact, "the word of the Lord was rare in those days; and visions were not widespread." The faith of the temple and of its leaders and people was drying up. Eli's sons were running wild and misusing their power to cheat worshippers. But, as the reading points out - the lamp of God had not yet gone out.
Eli is given the guardianship of young Samuel, who serves Eli as kind of an apprentice. Samuel's eyes and ears are innocent and open to seeing and hearing God's word afresh. While Eli dozes, Samuel repeatedly hears God calling him, though he has not yet perceived that the voice he's been hearing is God's. It's old Eli who finally understands that God is speaking to Samuel and tells him he needs to listen to what God is saying. Samuel's fresh perspective allows God's word to be heard, and for the movement of the Spirit to be perceived once again.
Sometimes what is needed in life is a fresh perspective - to see with new eyes - to look in a new way - to catch a glimpse of what is outside of our familiar boxes. There are times in life when visions are rare, and others when new revelation seem to fall abundantly out of the sky. As we continue to work on discerning God's call to St. James for the Jonathan Daniels Building, the vestry and I have been reminded repeatedly that there are always new ways to look at every situation. The wardens and I look forward to updating you on the latest developments at this week's warden's chat. I know God's light will illumine our path through the challenges before us, and that God's love will keep us walking together as one body in Christ.
Our readings for this Sunday are HERE