When I was about 15, I remember a time that I was awakened suddenly by some noise in the house. I don’t remember if I ever figured out what it was that made the noise, but I do remember that my mind obsessed over it as I laid awake for many hours. I also remember being certain that there was some intruder in our house and the only thing that would save me was to lay perfectly quiet. I’m embarrassed now to think of how old I was to allow some midnight delusion keep me awake and too scared to go investigate.
In yesterday’s reading, the young Samuel too is awakened in the middle of the night, but for him it was a voice, calling his name. How would Samuel have reacted if the voice hadn’t used his name? Understandably, Samuel assumed it was Eli calling, the person he was caring for and who he knew to be in the other room, certainly nothing to be scared of. This speaks to the disarming quality of knowing and using another’s name. To be called by name, breaks down a natural barrier that exists between us and others.
When you’re out shopping or out to eat, do you take notice of the name tags many front line service employees wear? Do you address them by name? What happens when you do? Do they treat you differently? Do you treat them differently?
It’s hard not to take note of the quality of interactions when people address each other by name. I’m guessing that you’ve heard the axiom that if you use someone’s name seven times, you’ll likely have it committed to memory. Just think how many barriers could be broken down if we make the small extra effort to learn one another’s names. Try it the next time you’re out shopping or dining or even at church.
In the middle of the night, God calls Samuel by name and invites Samuel into a redefined relationship. God is calling you by name too and God expecting you to respond. Your mind isn’t playing tricks on you, there’s no reason to lie still. Get up and go see what God has in store for you.
May God’s peace find you this day. –Pastor Peter
Let us pray,
Gracious God, you call us by name and invite us into something new. Ease our fears and inspire us to respond so that we might experience the joy of your presence and the possibilities that await. Amen.