Rev. John Kha Tran

Once a little boy was caught with his hand in the cookie jar. His mother castigated him, "God is very angry with you. You'll pay for this. . . You just wait and see!" Then he was banished to his room to await the wrath of God.

Shortly afterward, there was a sudden thunderstorm and the mother ran to the boy's room to see if he was frightened. She found him looking out the window, munching one of the pilfered cookies and muttering, "All this fuss over a few cookies!"

Once, his mother went so far as to post a sign on the kitchen wall: GOD SEES YOU. Then Granny came on a visit and allayed the fears of the children. "Every time you read these words," she said, "try to remember that God loves you so much that he cannot take his eyes off you."
(James A. Feehan, "Story Power: Search for God" p. 24).

The image of God

What image of God do we have? Our God is a loving and compassionate God, but he is also a just and righteous God. God is pleased with us if we listen to Him and obey his commandments. And God is not happy with us if we disobey him and go our own way.

We are the image of God. We would be the same way like God. For example, when your children listen to you and diligently follow every instruction from you, you would be very pleased and feel home like heaven. But you would be very disappointed and hurt when your children do not listen to you and lie to you and do all kinds of bad things. They, of course, will have to face consequences for their bad actions. We are feeling the same way about the actions of the four marines in Afghanistan. It is a shock and shame to see images of these four U. S. Marines urinating on three dead bloodies bodies of Afghan men. The U. S. Government has acted quickly to condemn the action and denounced the video as “utterly deplorable.” The president of Afghanistan, Mr Karzai, sharply condemns the action as “completely inhumane and condemnable in the strongest possible terms. None of us would approve this kind of behaviour.    

The first reading tells us a story about a caring and concerning God who calls Samuel at night. But behind this image of a caring God, there is also a disappointing God as well. God is not happy with the sons of Eli. These men are priests in the temple but they are not fulfilling their priestly role. They are wicked in their conducts. When people bring their meat and gifts to offer sacrifice to the Lord, these men would take them for themselves. They are abusing their authority and taking advantage of the people. God is not happy with them. God is not happy with Eli either. God tells Eli, “Why do you honour your sons in preference of me?” So God decides to abandon the house of Eli. He let them be defeated by the Philistines. God says, “I will choose a faithful priest who shall do what I have in heart and mind. I will establish a lasting house for him which shall function in the presence of my anointed forever” (1Sam 2:35).

The Call from God

God is calling Samuel to prepare him to carry out God’s plan for the people of Israel. At first Samuel think it is Eli, who is calling him, and when Eli denies this, Samuel is a little confused; he does not know that God is calling him. But when it happens the third time, Eli begins to realize that it is God who is calling Samuel. And so he tells Samuel what to reply to God. With the straightforward simplicity of a child, Samuel responds with unquestioning obedience and total willingness to serve: "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening."

The story of Samuel is also our story. Samuel stands for all of us. We may not be important in the eyes of society, but none of us is ever ignored by God. We are always in God's mind and forever under God's care. God is constantly calling us into a relationship with him in all the circumstances of our life. Since the time of our baptism the voice of God’s calling us continues to echo in our ears.

Like Samuel, if we want to hear God's voice, it is important for us to take some time to be with God in the church. Every weekend we come to the church to be with God and to listen to God's voice. It is also important for us to have a quiet and peaceful corner to develop pockets of silence, where we can be alone to listen to the voice of God, calling us and directing us along his pathway. God can only speak to us if we are listening. All the saints are saints because they take time to listen to God’s voice calling them. It is possible for us to stop our busy day during work to remember God and to listen to his voice speaking to us. It is possible for us to take just a second or two to think of God many times during the day.

Our Response

In the Gospel reading, when John the Baptist sees Jesus he introduces Jesus to his disciples:  "Behold the Lamb of God." The two disciples follow Jesus. And Jesus asks them, “What are you looking for?” They inquire, “Where are you staying?” Jesus invites them, “Come and see!”

They go and see where Jesus lives and they stay with him. Then they decide to go and invite others to join them.

There are also many John the Baptist, Andrews and Nathanael who are introducing Jesus to us and inviting us to come to meet the Lord. But in the noisy ranting of our world, there is a danger that we cannot hear God's voice. Jesus is constantly asking us what we want out of life. What are we looking for in life? He is inviting us to come with him and see where he lives. He wants us to stay with him and join him in his mission now and later be with him in his kingdom forever. When we join Jesus, we will see things we have never seen before. We will see the hungry fed, the crippled walk, the deaf hear, the sinner forgiven, the ignorant taught, the broken-hearted comforted. And we will join him to work and be part of His Kingdom. We will see him giving up his life and rising from the death to a new life.

An Honest Mechanic

Dr. Haddon Robinson once told the story of a writer for a newspaper in Toronto, Canada who undertook an investigation into the ethical practices of auto repair shops in his town. He took a spark-plug wire off of his engine, making the car run unevenly. He took the car in to different shops and asked them to fix it. Time after time people sold him unnecessary repairs or charged him for repairs that were not done. Finally, he went to a small garage. A fellow named Fred came out, popped open the hood, and said, “Let me listen to that thing.” After a few seconds, he told the reporter, “I think I know what’s wrong.” He reached down and grabbed the wire, announcing, “Your spark-plug wire came off.” And he put it back on.

The reporter asked, “What do I owe you?”

“I’m not gonna charge you anything,” Fred replied. “I didn’t have to fix anything; I just reattached the wire.”

The writer then told Fred what he was doing and that he had been charged all kinds of money by mechanics looking at that same wire. He asked Fred, “Why didn’t you charge me anything?”

Fred said, “Are you sure you want to know? I happen to be a Christian and believe that everything we do should be done to glorify God. I’m not a preacher and I’m not a missionary, but I am a mechanic and so I do it honestly. I do it skilfully and I do it to the glory of God.”

The next day in the newspaper was a headline that read, “Christian Mechanic, Honest to the Glory of God.” (Tommy Nelson, The 12 Essentials of Godly Success [Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005, p. 148]).