Wednesday, September 9, 2015

the call of Christ: no one is left out

May my words be in the Name of the Holy & Undivided Trinity: + Father, Son, & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Our readings today have two stories of God calling children to him. The first is when the prophet Samuel is a boy in the temple. He doesn't really seem to know what's going on, does he? He hears the call, but thinks it must be a human being who is talking to him. He's probably starting to think that someone is messing with him by the time it gets to the third call! And then we have the story with Jesus. People are bringing children to him; and his disciples think that children aren't important enough to bother with and try to send them away. But Jesus isn't having that! He stops his disciples and tells them they were wrong to try and send the children away.

Now, all this talk of calling people reminds me of when we were playing games when I was a child and we were picking teams. We used to choose two captains and then they would take turns picking people out of those who were there until they had a team each. Do you still do things like that? You do? Great. In fact, I think it so great that children still do that that I'd like to do it right now!

So I'm going to pick two captains. A couple from sixth class – X, Y could you come up here with me? Thanks. So now, would you start picking people out for your team? Let's just say you were going to play a game of football – we're not actually going to play a game of football, by the way – sorry, we don't have time and we are in church, which is God's house, after all! And since you two are the captains, you get to decide who you want on your team … and how many … so you guys decide when to stop picking! X, you get to pick from that side of the church, and Y you get to pick from the other.

And those they pick out – stand up when they call your name. But just stay where you are – no need to come forward.

OK. You've both picked out about a dozen each. Why did you stop there? Because you had enough for a team? Fair enough. And why did you pick these people and not others? Because you thought these would be best at the game? I suppose that's fair enough too. But what about everybody else? They just seem to have been left behind. But that's what happens when you play a game.

But now imagine if Jesus was doing the picking? Would he leave anyone out? No he wouldn't! Jesus calls everybody. So all of you who are still sitting down, stand up right now! Because you have been picked too – you've been chosen by Jesus! I see that the teachers and other staff are still sitting down – I did say Jesus was calling everybody – so you need to get up too! And all those parents, and grand-parents, and everyone who is sitting down the back – don't you know what 'everybody' means? It means you too, that's what! So, on your feet – Jesus is calling you as well!

And since Jesus has called us all, I think we should give Jesus a great big thank you! And maybe a cheer as well – hip hip hurrah! Great; now all sit down again.

It's great to be picked, isn't it? I don't know about you guys, but when I was a child and the captains were picking teams, it wasn't great to be left out. Because sometimes people don't get picked. Sometimes that happens for a good reason. Sometimes they're too little to play with all the others; they'd get hurt if they were allowed to join in. Sometimes they're not very good at the game – and the captain wants to win and he or she thinks that if they're on the team then the team will lose. And sometimes the captain is just being mean. He or she doesn't like someone – maybe they had a fight or they don't get on – and they simply refuse to pick them, no matter how good they are.

Whatever the reason for not being picked, it doesn't feel good, does it? But Jesus isn't like that. He asks everybody to be on his team – and his team is his Church. He calls everyone to come be a part of his Church. But you know what? Not everybody wants to say 'yes.' And I think that's very sad. Because they are deciding to leave themselves out of the game, out of the Church, out of the eternal life God offers us. And even if they don't realise what they're doing, we do. We know that they deciding for themselves that even though they have been picked, they're going to say 'no' to Jesus, 'no' to God. And I don't know about you, but I certainly don't want that for any one.

So I'm going to end with a prayer. I'm going to pray that everyone listens when Jesus is calling them. So if I could ask everyone to bow their heads and put their hands together:

Father in heaven, your Son calls all your children. He calls us when we are alone in our beds at night; he calls us as we work and play and do other things during the day. Help us all to hear him when he calls; and especially help all those who don't want to listen when he calls not only to listen, but to say 'yes' to him and all the good things he offers to us all. Amen

(preached in St Mary's, Castlecomer as part of the opening service for the new school year of the Wandesforde National School.)

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