Worship Sunday at 10:30

Bethany Evangelical
Lutheran Church

Ishpeming, Michigan † Est. 1870

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Epiphany 1/18

Today we have stories of call. We have Philip’s call which is very simple and straightforward. Jesus says, “follow me,” and Philip does exactly that. Then we have Nathaniel’s call which is a little more complex. Nathaniel isn’t directly called by Jesus. He is called by Philip to join him in following Jesus. At first Nathaniel doesn’t believe the call. He says, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” But his skepticism doesn’t end his call. He still takes a chance, coming to see Jesus with Philip. It is only after speaking with Jesus is he convinced that the call is a true call.

In the old testament story of Samuel we have an even more confused call. Samuel hears a voice in the night and he assumes that it is Eli , the man he works for. So he gets up and goes to see what Eli wants. All that he gets for his trouble is that he wakes Eli up and he gets told that he’s imagining things and to go back to bed. How very confusing that must have been Samuel. He thinks that his call is one thing and is told that he is wrong. What’s worse is that the call doesn’t stop, but each time that he attempts to answer it he is told that he is wrong. After multiple fruitless attempts on his part, someone else has to tell him that he has misunderstood his call and show him what it really is.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul says that we are all called to be members of the body of Christ. However, he neglects to say just what part we are called to be. The body needs different parts. It would do no good if we were all forearms, but we aren’t told what part we are.

When one hears the word “call” it all sounds so very clear and simple. “Follow me,” but it’s not always that easy. Calls aren’t all that direct. Nathaniel’s came through Philip. Calls can be misunderstood. Samuel couldn’t figure out who was calling him. Calls can change over time like bodies change over time. Calls don’t always stay the same any more than we stay twenty-one forever.

One thing though that all calls have in common is that they require action. They require getting up and following, coming and listening, or hearing and speaking. None of them are passive, requiring no work. If one doesn’t respond or doesn’t hear it, God doesn’t stop calling us any more than he stopped calling Samuel. We can ignore a call, say we’re too busy, live our lives like we can outrun it. We can rebel against it, but we can’t make it stop. Sometimes we really haven’t heard it because the call is so quiet and the world is so loud. It can be hard to hear a still, small voice in the middle of organized chaos. Sometimes our call has changed when we weren’t looking. We’re still committed to call A, but God has moved on to call B and somehow we missed the memo.

Calls can sound so simple, “Follow me.” At their heart they are that simple. But it’s in the execution, the “how,” that everything gets complicated. We live in a world with a million competing priorities. It’s hard to figure out which one are the ones to pay attention to. Somebody always wants to rank the different calls and tell us how one matters more than another. Prayer is what really matters. Feeding the hungry is what really matters. Celebrating the eucharist is what’s really important. It’s all about how much you give. It’s about converting infidels. Everybody is ready to tell us which ones really matter. Of course it’s like saying an arm is more important than a leg. It all matters. If any part goes missing the whole cannot function so well any more. Of course some parts are flashier and more obvious than others, but that doesn’t make them more vital.

What part are you called to be? Is it something big that you’re afraid to take on? Is it something small and quiet that other people dismiss? Is it something other than what people think you ought to do? Is it something that you’ve always dismissed?

The body of Christ is made up of many parts and we are all called to be parts. Take some time to consider your part and the parts of those around you. Is your part to help with worship? To instruct the young? Help the elderly? To feed the hungry? To be behind the scenes making certain that things run smoothly? To shovel the sidewalk so people can get in? To make sure the building functions? To be a friendly face to greet others? To care for the sick? To be a friend to others? To speak for those without voices? To remind us to care for all of creation? To remember what others forget? How are you called to follow? This week remember that we are all called to something, even if we do not know what it is. Listen, and follow.

Vicar Joy Proper


Bethany Lutheran Church
715 Mather Avenue
Ishpeming, MI 49849

Phone: 906-486-4351
Fax: 906-486-9640

Rev. Warren Geier, Pastor

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