When I watch television, I have a tendency to really zone out. I become all enraptured to the point of having no idea what is happening around me. My brothers are the same way. And three of my nephews are as well. There is no such thing as having a conversation with us when the television on in the background. There is no such thing as reading with the television going. There is no such thing as doing work or home work in front of the television. If that television is on, then it takes over everything. My husband gets frustrated with me and says a bomb could go off in our house and I wouldn’t notice it.
Sometimes he will be having whole conversations with me and I won’t remember that he was ever speaking. His voice just becomes a soft mumbling in the background. Now I am sure that my brothers and I are not the only ones to struggle with this problem. My solution has been that the tv just doesn’t go on when there are people around because I want to hear what is being said. I want to know what people are trying to include me on.
There are so many distractions all around us, our minds are constantly bombarded with visual and audio stimuli from the television to music to podcasts. We very rarely find ourselves in moments of silence. I had a professor in seminary who once shared that he worried about my generation and younger ones because we never experienced silence. Our lives were being played out to a sound track. And he was not wrong. I constantly have music or podcasts on in the background and it is a constant effort for me to have some time every day without that. This professor wondered how we might experience the still small voice of God when our senses are being bombarded with everything else. I believe that in our current world this is more than just a concern about my generation and the younger ones.
I believe that this is a concern for all of us no matter how tech savy we may or may not be. We all have those distractions in life that keep us from hearing the voice of God. What may be some of those possible distractions? (Allow time for the congregation to answer) It could be our constant fears and worries. It could be something as simple as just talking too much or too many appointments or too much stress. We all have those things that get in the way of hearing the voice of the Holy calling us to more in life, calling us to hear his voice and to do his work.
I love the calling stories of the Bible. Samuel is particularly interesting because he was just a child probably no older than 12 when God called him by name. Samuel laid there in his bed at the foot of the ark quietly listening to the creaks and moans of the temple at night watching the flame of the oil lamp flickering in the breeze. He lay there quietly and it was in the quiet that he heard the voice of God calling to him. Yes he was most definitely confused as to what was happening to him, but he heard God. And he responded eventually.
Many people believe that God has stopped calling to people as he did the great prophets of old. But I would say that’s not true. God still speaks to us. God still calls to us asking us to love more, to care more, to go forth into the world and to do his work with our hands. But there is just too much going on for us to hear God clearly. We drown out the voice of the Holy with the numerous distractions all around us and the overwhelming bombardment of media day in and day out. We miss out on the call: we either don’t hear it or we don’t see it or we write it off.
We are told by William Perkins author of A Treatise of the Vocations that “God [calls people] two ways. First, by himself immediately, without the help of any creature… Secondly, God calls mediately by means, which be of two sorts, men and Angels. By an Angel was Philip, being a Deacon, called to be an Evangelist; and the set or appointed callings in Church and Commonwealth are ordinarily disposed by men, who are in this matter the instruments of God”. God is actively reaching out to us calling us to do his work in his world. He calls us to have our works, our vocations, our callings reflect his love manifested in the world.
Just as Christ called to Nathaniel and Philip to do something more, to learn about God’s love and then to live into God’s love, we too are being called. Christ showed us that it doesn’t matter whether we are fishermen, accountants, nurses, moms, librarians, or ministers; we are all called according to our gifts and abilities. And because we know that we are called, that God is speaking to us, it is also up to us to create space to see and hear God’s words away from all the stimuli of today’s world. We are called to spend sometime in the silence. This is a hard one for me. But every day I work to refrain from turning on the television or the radio and just allow for the silence to inspire me and lead me in the decisions of life and the ways that I live into God’s great love. I invite you to join with me in creating time, in listening, and in finding ways to let God’s love shine in your life’s work. Jesus calls us each day saying, “Follow Me’…. You shall see greater things than that.” Do you hear him calling to you?
 William Perkins, A Treatise of the Vocations. 16th century theologian.
 John 1: 43 and 50, RSV.
(Based on 1 Samuel 3: 1-20 and John 1: 43-50)