Rye Congregational Church
Celebrating God’s Love “In the Heart of Rye Since 1726”
Biblical • Traditional • Independent
Sunday Services at 10 a.m.
Welcome to Rye Congregational Church
Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me?” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. Then the LORD called Samuel a third time and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me?” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy, so Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if He calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
~ I Samuel 3:7-10
Little Samuel was a good boy. He was to become a great man – a prophet of the Lord. It all began one evening when he heard a Voice calling his name. In the years to come he would become very familiar with that Voice and he would learn to obey it without question even when such obedience was fearful and challenging. With the privilege of knowing God comes the burden of serving Him, and that often entails sacrifice and discipline. That, in turn, separates us from the world even as it binds us ever closer to the God Who calls us.
Walking with God can be lonely at times, but in that loneliness is a joy and a peace that the world can neither offer nor understand. Communion with God is fulfilling, and though the void of separation is felt, it creates a space within which God can dwell and affords a foretaste of glory divine where God will be all in all. Such I imagine to be the case with Joseph, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul and many others who would find even in their imprisonment a holy fulfillment which surpasses understanding. An astounding exception to this was the isolation Jesus experienced as He took on the sins of the world and was deprived of such holy blessing and cried out in dismay, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me.” (Matthew 27:46) He endured that inexplicable sorrow so that we could always know a joy surpassing understanding. To be never alone is a precious gift of God’s grace. To be never left to one’s own devices is the promise to all who take up the call of God.
In a sense, God’s calling is rare and special – reserved for a few like Samuel, John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul, etc. But in another sense, equally real and equally important, God is calling all of us to walk beside Him in obedience, in fellowship, and in service to salvation. Often the bridge from one type of call to another is imperceptible and unexpected. Sometimes only in retrospect do we realize what God was doing through us and what God has done by His grace while we thought ourselves to be simply walking alongside, when in reality we were also exploring new paths and leading new disciples.
Such, I think, is the way it works with the children all around us. As I look back on my childhood years, I remember with gratitude many who helped me, who inspired me, who encouraged me, and who loved me. I remember their names and faces and often can still clearly remember how their voices sounded – every one unique. There are also many who will always remain unnamed, whose faces I can remember only vaguely and whose voices I can only imagine – yet they helped me, they took an interest in me and the other children who shared my lot, and I can now see that they were leading and inspiring us in many ways whose cumulative effect God only knows for certain. They also shall not lose their reward. (Matthew 10:42)
God is everywhere. He dwells in the quiet beauty of nature and in the busy bustle of daily life. Most of all, He dwells in the hearts of His children, old and young. He’s never truly far away, especially to those who seek Him. For the joy and privilege of all that is in the giving and receiving of that gift from above, I give heartfelt thanks to God on this day. I rejoice at the thought of all that God is doing in and through and among us, especially in the hearts of our little ones who race from the children’s sermon to Sunday school (God bless them all – and their teachers!) – may they come to know the full joy of Christ our Savior as they sojourn among us at Rye Congregational Church.
In His Love,
(The Preacher in the Rye)