The text is the calling of Samuel, but this sermon I think focuses a bit more on Eli. And theme is How to Hear the Word of God. Eli himself is a stunning negative example of how not to hear the Word and the effects of that. But in this text even Eli is prodded into being a good teacher for your Samuel. This sermon both examines that negative example of how we lose the ability to hear the Word and then lose the vision itself, and then it examines how Eli’s Words to Samuel are the foundation of any ability to Hear the Word. The Light of Christ, even in the darkness of Eli, never goes out. And God uses Eli to set Samuel on a good path to Hearing the Word. In those examples we also find our way to hearing the Word of God.
I’m not sure a recording happened this week, and I don’t have my good mike yet to record it after the fact. The trouble with moving.
This sermon reflects on two facts of the text. Father Abraham tells the Rich man in suffering that “Moses and Prophets” are enough to be heard. It should not take a miracle to see. The second fact is that Dives (“The Rich Man”) obviously never heard Moses and the Prophets, and so he never saw Lazarus sitting at his gate. His dogs did, but he never did. The first time Dives notices Lazarus is when he “lifts up his eyes” while in Hades. In the Spiritual life, hearing is important because it creates faith. And what you believe changes what you see. And these two things have eternal consequences. The sermon develops those ideas
This is something of a statement about the purpose of preaching. We attempt to put so much on the sermon. We look for all kinds of things there. And I honestly think we look for the wrong things. What the sermon is about is proclaiming the gospel. What the sermon is about is evangelism, our evangelism. And that is what this sermon attempts to do. It isn’t 7 words of wisdom for your best life. It isn’t 5 ways to life hack your way to Jesus. It is “God so loved the world that he gave his son.” He gave him for you. He gave him that we might hear and believe and live. There is a lot else that the Bible teaches that we should do, but preaching – that is about love, what God has done for us.
The text of this sermon was John 1:29-42. That is two days of John the Baptist’s preaching and the evangelists account of the first disciples of Jesus. By telling us this account -which is starkly different that the synoptic (Matt/Mark/Luke) tradition, the evangelist invites us to ponder our own discipleship journey. Where are we? Are we on Jordan’s bank, but not really hearing the Baptist say there, right there! is the Lamb? Have we heard and are hoping to see? Have we seen and have joined the journey? Have we put the things we have seen into practice?
The connection with “rosebud” is seeing what is really important. Epiphany, the current season of the church, is a season to see. It is a season to ponder what is really important before the trials and tribulations. To find our rosebud’s and to see the rose which is blooming – foretold by Isaiah and seen today within our midst.
In a challenge note, go read John 1:19 – 2:1 and track the days. Keep track of what happens on each day. What day(s) are missing? What day(s) are ours to write our discipleship journeys on? Who revealed Christ to us? How are we part of that chain? How do we extend that witness?