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Old Testament Reading: Jeremiah 1:4-10

4Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,  5“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,  and before you were born I consecrated you;  I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” 6Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” 7But the Lord said to me,  “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’;  for you shall go to all to whom I send you,  and you shall speak whatever I command you.  8Do not be afraid of them,  for I am with you to deliver you,  says the Lord.” 9Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me,  “Now I have put my words in your mouth.  10See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms,  to pluck up and to pull down,  to destroy and to overthrow,  to build and to plant.”

Jeremiah is called by God. Even when he was being knit together in his mother’s womb, God knew him, and already had great plans for him.

How about you?

From a sermon by Vince Gerhardy:

I received a phone call first thing one morning. The person on the line said with obvious excitement, "I need to see you. Come over this morning. I need to have breakfast and have my hair done. So how does eleven o’clock sound?"

I agreed to go over to her house. I had learned sometime before that she was not a person to be trifled with. When she ordered me to appear at her house, I appeared at her house.

As soon as I arrived, I was directed to sit on her lime-green sofa. She told me, "I have called you over here because the most wonderful thing has happened. I have personally—right before my eyes, as big as life, just like you are sitting here in front of me right now—seen Jesus."

"Really?" I asked in amazement.

"Yes. You thought this kind of thing only happened to TV preachers. Well, it has happened to me. You probably think I'm lying, don't you?"

"No. No, why would I think that?" I asked.

"Well. It happened. Last night George and I had been out to dinner—to that new Italian place on the edge of town. I had eaten too much. Really had bad indigestion. Was up and down all night. I’m sure you know what I mean."

"Well, about two or three in the morning, I just sat straight up in bed. I thought I heard someone call my name. At first I thought it might have been the indigestion. But there, right at the foot of my bed, there he was. As big as life. Actually, a little bigger than life. My Lord. He was dressed in white. Shining. Just like he is in the third window from the left on the right side of the church. He said, just as clearly as I’m speaking to you, ‘Gladys’."

I said, ‘Here I am, Lord’ or words to that effect.

And he said, "Gladys, follow me. I have work for you to do." Then he was gone. That's why I've called you over here. I want to follow Jesus and do his work totally, completely, without holding back."

"Well," I said. "This is wonderful. Only a few of us receive such visions. And I am only too happy to help you think through ways you can serve the Lord."

"Well, let's see. Have you thought about teaching? The Bible study group lost its leader last month. You might be just the one to . . ."

"Bible study group!" she exclaimed. "Me teach the very group who were so snobby when George and I first moved here? I would like to tell them a thing or two. You wouldn’t want me to teach that crowd."

"Oh, I see, well how about the little kids that go to Sunday School? You know we have a real problem getting folks who can help keep the . . ."

"Preacher! Have you lost your mind? Can't you even remember visiting me in the hospital last year when my back went out? That would be suicide for me. Don’t you know that working with little kids means bending down, sitting on the floor, even lifting them up? My back hurts just thinking about it. Besides wiping snotty noses makes me puke."

"I get the picture", I said.

"You know, before you retired, you worked as a secretary using a computer. Now there's a job that needs doing at the church! If I could get you to type for us, only a couple of mornings a week, that would enable us to ..."

"Oh no, you don't," she said, "I thought I made myself clear when you went and bought that expensive computer that I was opposed to getting. We had nothing but trouble with them in the office where I worked. But no, you thought you knew more about computers than anybody else so you are stuck with it. I would lose days even months of work when it crashes. No, that computer is your problem."

I made a couple more attempts to figure out what Jesus might have had in mind when he asked her to go to work for him; but to no avail. Finally, in exasperation I said, "Look, why don't you just think about it. Maybe visit that Italian restaurant again; perhaps you'll have another vision. And next time, would you do me a favor? Don't let him get out of your bedroom without telling you exactly what he wants you to do. OK?"

Gladys had a problem. She heard the call of Jesus and her response, though initially enthusiastic, never resulted in anything.

Gladys heard Jesus call her to do something in the Kingdom of God, but she missed the next step – actually doing something.

We all have excuses. But consider those who moved beyond excuses to action.

When God called Moses to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, Moses himself thought God had it all wrong. What qualifications did he have to do make such a demand of the king of Egypt?

Likewise when God called young Jeremiah to deliver a severe message, Jeremiah thought God must have lost the plot.

A farmer by the name of Gideon was called by God to lead an army and save Israel. A farmer called to defeat a powerful enemy – God must have the wrong person. Simon, Andrew, James and John – just ordinary fishermen – were called by Jesus to bring God's Kingdom to others and change lives.

And Gladys, a retired secretary, called to do God's work.

That’s how it often is. God calls amateurs and puts his kingdom in their hands. He calls them to obey, to do his will, and expand his rule in the lives of people in all kinds of circumstances.

The sad thing is that we have too often failed to respond to the call of Jesus. For all the times we ignore what God commands, for the occasions when we have selected hearing and hear only what we want to hear, for all the times we have let down other people because we have gone our own merry way believing that what God is asking is insane, for all these occasions and more, we are glad that Jesus was obedient to the call of the Father, even to the point of dying on a cross to give us forgiveness.

May God grant each of us ears to hear when he is speaking and willing hearts to obey what he commands. He calls you and me, amateurs in matters relating to God’s kingdom, to be his disciples in this community.

Let us Pray: Here I am, Lord. It is I, Lord. I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, as you lead me. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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