What does it mean to be a follower of the Lord Jesus ? Surely to listen and hear his voice, and to go where he leads us. Today, as we enter the “ordinary” season of the year, we begin our story of Jesus’s life and ministry with the calling of the first disciples. John fulfils his ministry - pointing to the Lamb of God - and the disciples follow where he points. His word to them is simple and inviting: “Come and see.” This echoes the calling of Samuel - a simple call, by name, which Samuel does not understand: discipleship is about trust, which Samuel shows simply by saying “Speak, Lord; your servant is listening. The Psalm also underlines this, as we (the disciples of the Lord) sing together: “Here I am, Lord ! I come to do your will.” We hear his call, and we freely go to him, to listen again to the words of the Master.
A very traditional way of telling stories in the ancient world was to have everything happening in sets of three; this is an example. This technique of story-telling makes sure of two things: first that the audience has got the story clearly in mind, and will remember it, but also so that when something different happens the third time, the audience is alerted to it. Be aware of this as you tell the story of Samuel. Don’t feel the need to rush, just because the same phrases keep appearing. Save a special emphasis when Eli realises “that it was the Lord who was calling the boy...”. Also remember that the last paragraph but one is the key: notice how this time the Lord “came and stood by”, and imagine how the boy Samuel would have said the words given him by Eli. The final sentence is a little abrupt, so be careful to leave a pause before it; also enjoy the charming expression “and let no word of his fall to the ground.”
Every year we begin with this letter - one of
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