January 19, 2003
Wesley, Doncaster East
© John M. Connan
Is it sheer audacity or downright effrontery? How dare we claim to know the God who formed the universe! How dare we pray to the Lord God Almighty! How dare we claim that he knows us, cares for us, and calls us by name to join in his work for his world!
Creation! Our minds cannot begin to take in its immensity. Earth: a minor planet circling a 4,000 million-year-old mid-sized star we call the Sun. The Sun: one of some 100,000 million stars in a galaxy we call the Milky Way. The Milky Way: one of thousands of millions of galaxies humankind has glimpsed across 6,000 million light-years of space.
Yet this Creation is made up of matter of such infinitesimal size and mystery that the human mind struggles to describe what has been discovered.
It defies imagination.
We claim we know who brought all this to being. We claim he cares about this planet among the myriad stars and galaxies of his Creation. We claim we can make contact with him, mind to mind, in prayer. We claim he cares about us as individuals: knows us; and he calls us by name.
How dare we such claims? How dare we!
Because we believe that through the Bible we have a clear record of God’s dealings with humankind.
He spoke through the prophets, the law-givers, the historians: through the writings of the Old Testament he revealed his care for the people of Israel, for the world, for all the peoples of the earth.
Then, in Jesus, the carpenter of Nazareth, God’s care was revealed in a person, a person through whom we see the infinite majesty and love of God in his living, his teaching, his dying and his rising.
God spoke to the young lad Samuel: an inner voice? The memory of what his mother hoped for him? A divine compulsion? We don't know. But he heard – even though, at first he didn't understand.
After his baptism Jesus spoke to John the Baptiser's disciples: "What are you looking for?" They wanted to know more about "the Lamb of God." They wanted to see for themselves. "Where do you live?"
"Come and see." That was their call. God had spoken to them.
When Andrew went and told his brother, Simon: "We have found the Messiah," and took Simon to Jesus, he received a new name, Cephas, Peter, the Rock, and. a new vocation. That was his call. God had spoken to him.
Jesus left Bethany behind and headed to Galilee. There he ran across Philip and said, “Come, be my disciple.” That was his call. God had spoken to him. He went and found Nathanael, and told him they’d found the person Moses had written about 1,200 years before, the one the prophets had been writing about for the last six hundred years. Nathanael couldn’t believe his ears – thought Philip was kidding, but went along with him anyway. Were Philip’s words his calling? When Jesus saw Nathanael, he said, “Now, here’s a real Israelite, genuine through and through.” That startled Nathanael. How did Jesus know him? How did he know his name? When Jesus “explained,” Nathanael could only respond, “Rabbi! You are the Son of God, King of Israel!” God had spoken to him.
God still speaks. He still calls. His word and his call come in just as many different ways as they've always come. One way to Samuel: another to Andrew; another to Peter; another to Philip, and yet another to Nathanael.
God keeps on speaking in startlingly different and unexpected ways
43 years ago God spoke to me. After graduating in chemistry and metallurgy, I’d been working in industry for three years. I was unsettled. A year or so before, Teddy Vercoe had asked me about the ministry, but the timing was wrong. In 1960 the timing seemed right, but could I be sure? It's not all been good in the last 43 years – but I am sure God called me.
Over the past few years Lyn Bennett looked around and felt God calling her to be involved in meetings needs within the local community. Out of the struggle emerged Manningham LinC. It’s working
Others of our people heard God speaking to them about the need to evolve and develop a new future for this congregation. That’s particularly involved Rob Latimer, the Cloughs and the Vimpanis. Out of the Latimer family history and Caroline’s school involvement came the vision to form the Aussie-South Africa group. South Africans may not be hearing God’s call to join this congregation, but appreciate our initiative in bringing them together as a new immigrant community. NewStart has been God calling to Rob, Ron, Joan, Stan and Caroline.
God’s spoken to you. You've heard the whisperings of his voice; you’ve felt the inward yearnings; you’re searching for meaning beyond the banality of existence; you're longing for strength not your own. If that weren’t true, you'd not be here this morning.
God is speaking to you.
For you he has comforting words and compelling words. Sometimes God comforts and strengthens, so we can respond to his compelling demands. Sometimes God places his compulsion on us, and then lets us know we'll have the strength to see it through.
When he speaks, and we respond, he changes us. Samuel didn't understand that, at first - neither did Andrew or Peter, Philip or Nathanael. But their lives were changed – for ever!
Your life can be changed too.
Too old, you say. Never too old to be changed! Never too old to learn new ways of loving and helping others! Never too old to smile! Never too old to speak of your faith, your joy, your hope in Jesus!
Too young, you say. Never a better time to begin! Find faith. Find hope. Find joy. Find confidence in GOD’s ability, and your own. Know what it is to be loved and trusted – or to love and trust others.
Too busy, you say. If you were offered whatever would bring you the deepest satisfaction in life, no strings attached, would you be too busy? If your life depended on what you decide at this moment, would you be too busy? No better moment than now to respond and be changed.
What's God calling you to?
In every Church there are people who take special responsibility for others. In the Uniting Church they're Elders – or Leaders – with both pastoral and missionary responsibilities. Our Elders provide regular pastoral care to about ten people. They visit. They chat. They open themselves to the hurts and hopes of people in a simple, caring way. They share with the minister responsibility for worship, evangelism and Christian Education. Is God calling you to be an Elder?
One of the Elders' responsibilities is to maintain up-to-date Membership Rolls. To do that, you don't have to be an Elder. Is God calling you to keep the Rolls?
Sunday School teachers lay the foundation for the Christian lives of young people. There’s real satisfaction in seeing lives changed for God. Is God calling you to be a Sunday School teacher?
Most teaching of young people takes place in State Schools. There are never enough CRE teachers. Is that where God is calling you to serve?
At Wesley over the years we’ve rejoiced in the leadership of our KUCA Club and our Junior Youth Club, but Rowena will be studying for the next two years at Flinders University in Adelaide. We need someone who could help set up a Junior KUCA Club for younger children – and for someone who could take up the challenge of Junior Youth Group Leadership. Unless someone acknowledges that God is calling them, no Junior KUCA; no Junior Youth Group any longer!
We have young people with great musical talents. Is God calling you to organise them to provide leadership in music for our worship?
We have older people with great singing abilities. Is God calling you to organise a regular or occasional choir?
In all of these things, has there NOT been something to which God is calling you?
Look around you in your own family, the church, in the community, in the world Listen for God speaking to you within a need. Fill the need. You’re answering God’s call.
The awesomely infinite God cares about you. God speaks to you. He calls you. You’ll find in answering God’s call that you’ve found the meaning and purpose God intended for you in your life.