Forming Faith Blog

Listening for God’s Call (October 15, 2017)

1 Samuel 3:1-21

Free Resource: Opening Prayer & Learning the Story (Cross+Gen Worship)

Unit Theme (October 15 – November 5): Called by God

Samuel and Eli provide the first story in our next series or unit, with the theme “Called by God,” used throughout our Living the Word faith formation resources. Last unit, the stories focused on God providing blessings, which flows naturally into the current theme, as God often provides blessings by calling servants as conduits for the divine blessings to those around them.

In this week’s story, we have moved from a newly liberated Israel to their descendants, who are now settled in the land God promised Abraham, after being given the Torah, trudging through the wilderness for 40 years, and conquering the Canaanites. The tabernacle now sits in Shiloh, a community in the hill country north of Jerusalem and Jericho, west of the Jordan (in the modern West Bank). Samuel, a child of God’s provision, is growing up in the tabernacle. Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, serve as priests, but the sons are abusing their position for their own gain. God has sent a prophet (man of God) to speak words of condemnation against this family.

Samuel, a boy of unknown age, is serving in the tabernacle. The boy, who would grow up to be a famous and influential prophet, had not yet been called to this vocation (1 Samuel 3:7). Why Samuel would be sleeping in the tabernacle is unknown, but it was a common practice for people of note to sleep in a temple with the hope of a revelation from their god, called an “incubation dream.” Unintentionally, Samuel was continuing this practice.

However, Samuel had never had a message from the LORD, so wasn’t expecting one. As is logical, when he heard his name called (in an “auditory message dream”), he assumed it was Eli calling. Eli was slow on the uptake, but once the call was repeated three times (a number associated with truth and completeness), the old priest figured it out. Samuel, now armed with the proper response, hears a word from God, and speaks his first prophesy.

This text has natural connections to intergenerational ministry. The word of the LORD was heard and spoken only by a young boy and an old man working together. The wisdom and experience of those who have lived a long life enriches the experience of the young, and the young, with their flexibility and new ideas enrich those older than them.

How can you connect the different generations in your faith formation context?

  • This week’s free resource has an activity from our Cross+Generational Worship product that provides one idea to do just that.
  • You can partner up participants of different generations for a conversation, prayer, or other activity.
  • If you are in a context that has a narrow age range, perhaps participants can be assigned a task that requires interaction with someone in a different generation (a gift to be made, a question to be asked, a handshake or hug to be given, etc.) during fellowship time or after worship. For shy younger disciples, asking a parent to accompany them would be helpful.

Do you have any other ideas? Please share!

-Gregory Rawn (Publisher)

Be sure to download our free Narrative Lectionary Planning Tool and Scope & Sequence to help in your planning, and our free daily lectionary calendar feed!

This week’s FREE resource is an opening prayer and an exploration of the Bible story from our Living the Word: Cross+Generational Worship product. This product provides a weekly interactive liturgy aimed at all ages designed to make our worship services accessible and engaging for everyone in the congregation, from every generation. Use this in worship or in any other context to help make this story come alive to your congregation!