Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:1-10)
Lent is a time for listening for God. We listen for God by removing those things which might occupy our conscious mind (Facebook, television, holding grudges, to name a few examples – for me at least!), we take on a discipline or project by which we serve as the hands of God, and sometimes we listen for God … (spoiler alert) by listening.
In the passage from Samuel above, the boy Samuel is having some trouble listening, but, unlike many of us, he knows he’s having some trouble listening. At first, he goes to his mentor Eli thinking he is speaking to him. The second time the Lord calls he makes the same mistake, and a third time. Thank goodness Eli recognizes what is happening and encourages Samuel to “lie down” and listen. Was Samuel dreaming? Was Samuel just sitting there? Was Samuel in a state of deep contemplation? Perhaps all of the above? God can speak to us in all three states, but for me, I often find God while engaging in the latter, in contemplation.
Mindfulness. Meditation. Calm. They are very popular these days. But what if we took these good pursuits, and took them to the next level. What if, in the midst of our mindfulness or meditation, we also listened for God. This practice is known as Contemplative Prayer and during Lent we will offer Contemplative Prayer every Wednesday, from 6:20p to 6:40p in the Chapel. You can join us for Holy Eucharist for Healing and/or grab a bite to eat at 5:30p, if there are young people in your life, they can attend Children’s Choir or EYC at 6p, and then you can join us for some peace, quiet, and prayer in the Chapel. Will or I will lead each session. If you are new to Centering Prayer, or have been practicing this profound discipline for some time, know that all levels of experience are welcome. If you have any questions, give me a call.
In this season of Lent, listen. And if you need some help, join us on Wednesdays at 6:20 at the Chapel of the Cross.