January 10, 2018
By Cheryl Anderson.
Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1
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.
The opening statement of the story of the call of Samuel arrested my attention this year. “The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.” We could certainly say the same thing about the world today. The present culture of fear, greed, and hatred promulgated by leaders at the highest levels of government could make one think that God must have laryngitis.
But God is still speaking.
God is always speaking – communicating through inspirations and visions, often to young people who still approach the world with “beginner’s mind,” as Samuel did. The reason that the word of the Lord seems to be rare in these days and visions don’t seem to be widespread is that the other voices clamoring for our attention and the visions presented by all of our 24-hour news feeds deafen our inner ears and blind the eyes of the heart to the 24 hour God feed.
Recently, I was asked by a local activist group to participate on a panel that included a local Imam, the president of the local NAACP, and a local labor leader. The meeting was called in response to the white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville that had stimulated some local neo-Nazi graffiti on a restaurant owned by a mixed race and mixed faith couple. The group was planning a “march against bigotry” the following week and asked me if I would participate. I told them that I agreed with Mother Theresa – I would never join a demonstration “against” anything.
I won’t join any of the “resist” movements I keep hearing about either. Focusing on what you don’t want only gives it more power; and it doesn’t tell anyone what you do want. Changing your focus as soon as you know what you don’t want, then articulating, envisioning, and working toward the reality that you would prefer is the only way to bring that desired reality into being.
The group ended up changing the focus and called it a “march for equal justice” so I joined in and wore red white and blue to reclaim the flag and made the sign in the photograph that says “Extravagant Welcome for All!”
Jesus told us not to judge, not to condemn, not to worry, and to forgive. These are wisdom teachings, not moral teachings. Judging, condemning, worrying, and holding grudges keep you focused on what you don’t want. Change the channel. Stop talking and tweeting about what you don’t like. Take a news fast. Get quiet so you can hear the word of the Lord and you will be given a vision. Followers of Christ are called to spread hope, peace, joy, and love – rather than despair.
Lord, speak to me, that I may speak; In living echoes of Thy tone; As Thou hast sought, so let me seek; Thy erring children lost and lone. O strengthen me, that while I stand;
Firm on the rock, and strong in Thee; I may stretch out a loving hand; To wrestlers with the troubled sea. O use me, Lord, use even me; Just as Thou wilt, and when, and where; Until Thy blessed face I see; Thy rest, Thy joy, Thy glory share!
The Rev. Cheryl P. Anderson is pastor of First Congregational Church of Washington.
January 10, 2018