January 8, 2018

Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
[1 Samuel 3:10]
Lectionary readings for Sunday, January 14, 2018 -  The Second Sunday after the Epiphany
Blessings in the New Year!
As you read this, I am on my way back to Ohio from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where I have been attending the annual Bishops' Academy. This is a continuing education event for bishops that is held annually in various locations and addresses a specific topic or theme. This year was, "First Nations Peoples: Spirituality, Theology, Reconciliation."
There was a lot of information to process and I'll have additional reflections on the academy and what we learned either in a future Musing or a blog post.
What does it mean to be called by God? Is it something that happens only to a few, or is it part of our lives as baptized Christians?  The Revised Common Lectionary readings for the next two weeks, specifically the Old and New Testament readings, focus on the call of God and help us understand God's call on our own lives.
Eli and Samuel - John Singleton Copley 1780

One of the things I love to do when I meet a rostered minister I've not spoken to before is to hear their call story. Individually, each of them has a call story that is unique to them.
The call readings have a special significance for me. I wrestled with that sense of call for nearly a decade until I finally realized that is was God calling me to service in the church.  I'm sure that if you ask any pastor or deacon, they will tell you it wasn't easy discerning God's call.  How do we know? 
It often takes others in our lives to assist us in understanding the call God places before us.
In Samuel's case, it was Eli. In my case, it was my pastor who told me that I had the gifts for ministry, I told him he was out of his mind.  But he persisted. And after a few years of wrestling with that nagging thought, and as evidenced by the fact that I am writing these weekly musings today, it would appear that he wasn't so crazy after all. 
And then, of course, the epilogue to that story, is my election to bishop, which I no more expected than to land on the moon, or Mars, or some other extra-terrestrial destination.  
God is calling you and me, each and every one of us, for a special purpose.  No, God is not calling all of us to be pastors or deacons or bishop, but God does have a purpose for each of us.  In our baptism, God claimed us and called us God's special children. 
Who is your Eli? Listen to the voices of those you trust and who love and care for you.  Pay attention when someone tells you how gifted you are, when someone suggests you might be called to something you haven't thought of before.
It could be God speaking through that person to you. How will you respond?
The Rev. Dr. Bridget L. Piggue

This coming Sunday at 3:30 p.m., the Northeastern Ohio Synod commemorates the birthday of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The annual celebration will be at Faith Lutheran Church in Lakewood.
This year we gather under the theme: "Healing the Next Generation of Healers." The guest preacher is the Rev. Dr. Bridget L. Piggue, Director of Spiritual Health at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
I invite you to attend and hear not only a timely message, but a festive and celebratory time, as we remember the Rev. Dr. King in worship, prayer, and song.
Earlier in the day, at 10:00 a.m. I will gather with the people of God at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lakewood, as they vacate their building on Detroit Avenue. We will process from there, to their new worship space at First Congregational Church, 1375 West Clifton Boulevard.
A reminder that January is the time of year for rostered ministers and congregational reports. See our Wednesday e-news for more instruction.
The Lutheran Center will be closed next Monday in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. Therefore, Monday Musings will publish on Tuesday.
This week and always, may God's love surround you and give you the heart to serve the Lord.
+Bishop Abraham Allende