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Sermon Sunday June 2, 2024 Proper 4
Track 1 Lessons: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20)
Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17
2 Corinthians 4:5-12
Mark 2:23-3:6

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy
Spirit. Amen.
My cat Flor, as you know, the one who doesn’t just think
that she is queen of the world, but knows that she is queen
of the world, just can’t seem to hear me when I am talking to
her. While talking to the fur animals that condescend to
share their space with us may sound like we’re a bit crazy,
come on now, admit it! Chances are you talk to your dog, or
cat, or iguana, or whatever creature you have in your house
or grounds that you help to take care of. We know, yes, I
said we know, they can understand what it is that we are
saying to them!
Have you ever seen the internet sensations of dogs and cats
that have the buttons with certain words that they have
learned to communicate to their human caregiver what it is
that they want or need by pressing the buttons? Food,
outside, or the name of their favorite toy that they want to

play with is communicated, and they want it NOW! Yes,
our animals understand what we are saying to them, even if
it is only by our tone of voice.
So, Flor pretends that she doesn’t hear me, or that she
misunderstands what it is that I am saying to her. “No Flor,
no more treats!” She tells me—meow about ten times after I
say no. She now thinks that no means yes…much to my
fault and my embarrassment. You can put 2 and 2 together
to understand what I mean!
Today’s O.T. Lesson from the First Book Samuel puts us
into the drama of a similar situation, but the buttons for
Samuel, the boy, to respond to God have gotten mixed up,
and therefore Samuel was at first, unable to communicate
with God. Or maybe it was just an inability to recognize the
voice of the One who was the ultimate caretaker of Samuel.
The scene that we drop into in today’s Bible passage may be
a story that we have heard dozens of times. They young boy,
Samuel, has been dedicated to God by his mother Hannah.
Samuel is a miracle child as Hannah had prayed to God for a
child for years. As a result, when Samuel was born, his
mother dedicated him to God. That is how Samuel got to
serve the priest Eli.

Now Eli is what you might call a lifer. Eli has been a priest
in Israel for decades, and he is ready to hand over his
priestly duties to his sons. Being a priest in those days was a
hereditary office, but the thing is, Eli’s sons have been
running around all over the place, doing all kinds of
unsavory things that are unbefitting of priest-heirs apparent.
And Eli hasn’t let his sons know how unbefitting all this
ruckus is.
And that is where we drop into the passage. There really
isn’t a leader in Israel who can help the people remember
God in their lives. Therefore, the people are also running
around doing whatever they want, running amuck, and not
remembering God, just like Eli’s sons. That is why the word
of God was rare in those days, except maybe for Hannah and
Samuel, and then certainly, knowing what God’s voice
sounded like was even more rare.
It should come as no surprise then that when Samuel was
trying to get to sleep, that he di not recognize God’s voice
when Go cried out to him, “Samuel, Samuel”! Samuel runs
to Eli asking Eli why he called him. It takes God calling a
couple of times for Eli to recognize God’s voice calling and

to instruct Samuel to respond, “Speak for your servant is
listening.”
Because Eli realized what was happening and was able to
tell Samuel, Samuel was finally able to recognize God’s
voice, the voice of the One who was taking care of him.
Samuel was then able to respond with the “correct” buttons
to God, the One who takes care of him.
Samuel, of course, went on to be one of the most important
prophets in the O.T., guiding the people of Israel for many
years. And even though Samuel was opposed to a king that
the people of Israel wanted, because God was their king, he
guided Saul to the throne.
So, what might this Bible passage have to say to us in the
present? We might ask ourselves, is the voice of God rare
these days? Why? Do we recognize God’s voice when we
hear it? How? And furthermore, do we know the right
buttons to press to be able to communicate with God? Are
we taking no for yes?
Sometimes, like Elijah, we think that the voice of God
comes in the thunder and lightning and rain and water.
Perhaps that is why some folks may believe that God is
punishing a city, or town, or a certain area with tornadoes, or

hurricanes, or flooding. No, that is not God’s voice, nor
God’s punishment. Those things come from nature being out
of whack when our faults entered into creation. If our God is
a loving God, how can that be a punishment from God? This
despite what we see in the O.T. and Noah and the flood.
That is a way to understand God that got put to rest with the
Book of Job. It is more an admonition for us to sit up, look,
listen, and take stock of where God is in our lives, or the
lack thereof, and realize that our actions do have
consequences.
Sometimes, like Elijah, we think that the voice of God is in
the fire, or a violent wind. But like Elijah, we recognize that
God is in the small, light breeze—delicate, whispering, and
soft. Unless, of course, you are like me, and need to get
whacked over the head with a spiritual 2X4 to sit up and
take notice! Seriously though, that means that we have to
take the time to stop and listen, because if the voice of God
is like a soft, light breeze, we need to be aware to hear it
above all the noise of our everyday lives. Perhaps we have
to have others to help us discern it, to point out to us that is
God speaking to us in a voice that we do not recognize. And
that is how we discern, in a Christian community, through

the Bible, through tradition, through experience. For if we
do not recognize God’s voice, how can we respond to it?
And then, that is the real question, isn’t it? How do we
respond to God’s voice in our lives? Do we, like Samuel
say, “speak for your servant is listening?” Do we respond
like Isaiah when he said, “Here I am Lord?” Or do we get
mixed up and pretend that we don’t hear? That no becomes
yes, or yes becomes no, or we press the wrong button, or
don’t press any button at all? That’s not to say that God will
punish us if we don’t respond, or say no, or don’t even
recognize God’s voice! It’s more like God and Jonah! Jonah
tried to run the other way and hide from God, but God kept
giving Jonah lots of opportunities to respond.
And that is one thing that we can be sure of! God does not
give up on us, even if we may give up on God. God kept
calling Samuel until Samuel was able to hear God. And God
keeps calling us until we are able to hear God. Then it is up
to us to either be like my cat Flor and pretend that we don’t
hear, or confuse no and yes, or we respond to God. We
respond to God knowing that God is with us, that God loves
us just the way that we are, that God doesn’t give up on us,
no matter how we try to run and hide. Amen.