This is based on my sermon at the closing Eucharist at the 2005 Senior High Conference. I was honored that the young people chose me to give this sermon. Several folks have asked that I print it out. The readings for this included the story of the calling of Israel at the foot of Mt Sinai in Exodus, The Great Commission and a portion of Paul's letter to the Ephesians. I've forgotten the exact citations.
When I prepare for a sermon I usually read the scripture selections and then listen for a theme or central idea. As I read these I heard just two words "God Calls". And my first thought was "With as busy as my cell phone's been this week, He's about the only one who HASN'T called". And then I heard the Lord's voice say "Jay", Yes Lord?, "That wasn't what I meant", I knew that Lord, "Carry on".
God calls. You may not be hearing it, or even listening for it. But God is calling you. He's calling you now, He called you before you got here this week, He'll call you when you get home. He will call forever, His calling is relentless.
And He's calling everyone. The populars, the plastics, the geeks, the freaks, the jocks and the tall and the short, the skinny and the ample. It doesn't matter where you are or who you are. He called a ragged group of refugees in the middle of nowhere with nothing but what they could carry. They'd left their homes and their jobs. They were without a country and had no power in this world and God called. He didn't need them. But He called them to be more than they were. And they said yes. And that's what He wants.
God calls. He reasons, cajoles, implores, nags, inspires and as Saul found out if you make it necessary he will strike you blind. He doesn't care other people think about you. He doesn't care whether you're fashionable or even presentable. God desperately wants to be your friend. You will make his day, his week, his month, his year is you say yes. Given the world we live in let me assure you that we're not talking about some weird divine stalker dude. God is calling to you because he knows that he has what you need. And it doesn't matter what you need. Maybe you need a little more confidence, maybe you need a little LESS confidence! God has what will bring you joy, what will make you whole, will bring out all that is best in you. Because it's all in there. God gave you gifts, wonderful presents, and he's calling to ask why you haven't opened them yet?
But that's not all he calls about. He calls about how we treat each other and what we are to do with the gifts after we've finally listened that first little bit. Paul reminds the brothers and sisters at Ephesus - be humble (it's not all about you), gentle, patient, bear with one another (and this is my favorite part of this sentence) making every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit. Note what it says, it doesn't say that you should make sure that only the "right" music is played during worship, or that everyone observe the dress code at church. It isn't the unity of the rules and regulations, it's the unity of the spirit!
God calls us not ride off on our own little quest,ignoring everyone else. I am not called to the International Church of Jay, the church dedicated to the care and well being of Jay, making sure that Jay is happy and healthy and gets what he wants, needs and dare I say it, deserves. But too often that's where we find ourselves. That's the church that brings us road rage and people who say "It's not my fault you didn't think that was funny, I thought it was funny". They say that usually right after they've said something that's hurt you or humiliated you or made you feel stupid and small. But hey as long as they laughed because they're the only ones they worry about. You know what? We're called to be patient and gentle with those folks too.
God calls us to One Body, One Spirit, one hope, one lord, one faith, one baptism. The God that calls us is above all and in all and through all. The God that calls us isn't trapped in some little box somewhere, only during certain hours of the week and usually when a bunch of other people just like me are hanging around. God is everywhere and that's where he sends us. He tells us that this is not a gift that we are to hoard for ourselves. We are sent out into ALL the world. Where is that? Like God, it's everywhere. It's the students and teachers at school, it's the store clerks and the girl who works at the car wash, it's strangers and those slow people driving in front of you.
For our seniors this is an especially important message. You are about to leave your homes behind, your old lives behind and go into a strange land. And parts of it are scary and it becomes easy to doubt. So I would remind you that not long after the children of Israel gave that ringing endorsement of doing all that God asked they were worshipping a golden calf and that when Jesus called the 11 some doubted. But their doubts did not win, they did not let their doubts drown out the sound of God's voice in their lives. When the doubts grow strong remember the last thing that Jesus says to them. That He will be with you always, everywhere, until then end of time. Always and Everywhere. None of us are being sent out alone. We will NEVER be alone. As long as we remember: