The Reverend Elizabeth Bowyer

      Introduction to the Readings

for Baptism and Confirmation Sunday

                                             For June 5, 2016

Our stories from Scripture today give a snapshot of God’s loving and powerful action in the vastness of God’s great universe and in  personal relationships. 

We begin first with a reading describing God’s  creative love actively at work in

the formation of the world.  

Adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Harper Collins Study Bible, 1989, we begin with

 Genesis 1: 1-10: ‘The Waters of Creation’

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,

the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep,

while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 

Then God said, ‘Let there be light”; and there was light.

And God saw that the light was good;

and God separated the light from the darkness. 

God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. 

And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters,

and let it separate the waters from the waters.”

So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome

from the waters that were above the dome.  And it was so. 

God called the dome Sky. 

And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place,

and let the dry land appear.”  And it was so. 

God called the dry land Earth,

and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. 

And God saw that it was good.”

Here ends our first reading.  (reader sits down)

Meditative Music:  “Here comes the sun”

Our second reading this morning is a story about a young boy named Samuel.

Samuel’s family had sent him away to live with an elderly priest named Eli in the local temple, a place we might call a church sanctuary.

In between taking care of this special place,

they also had all their meals in the temple. 

They even slept there. 

Eli was a special sort of religious teacher. 

Part of Eli’s work it was to help Samuel learn more about God’s holy ways.

One night, Samuel had a sense of God calling to him in the night. 

Here is how it happened: 

Somewhere between the deep dark of night and the early dawn,

both Samuel and Eli realize the voice that kept them from getting a good night’s sleep was coming from God.

Maybe this same thing has happened to you in the middle of then night! 

Listen carefully to what this story might have to say for you and your faith journey.

Reading from the first book of Samuel, Chapter 3, verses 1-10,  ‘The Call of Samuel’

Now the boy, Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. 

The word of the Lord was rare in those days;

visions were not yet 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 Eli said, “I did not call you; lie down again.”

So Samuel went back to his bed and lay down.

The Lord called again, “Samuel!”

Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said,

“Here I am, for you called me.”

Again Eli said, “I did not call, my son; go back to your bed and lie down.” 

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. 

He said again, “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.”

Here ends our second reading from the Hebrew texts for this morning.

Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Thanks be to God, amen! 

Interested in a more accessible version of these stories from scripture?  

Then, read on for two adaptations of our readings based on Ralph Milton’s Family Story Bible, copyright Ralph Milton, 1996  (Northstone Publishing) pages 10, 107-108)

Genesis, Chapter 1: verses 1-10: ‘God Makes a World’

Long, long ago, before there was anything,

before there was a world,

before there was light,

before there was darkness, there was God.

Just God. All alone.

So God decided to make the world.

Then God said, “Let there be light.”

So there was.

Beautiful light shining everywhere.

And God said, “That’s good.”

Then God said, “Let there be a sky above, and water below.”

So there was.

Then God said, “Let the water come together in hollow places,

so there can be dry ground.”

So there was.

And God said, “That’s good.”

Then God said, “Let there be green plants and tall trees and grasses and beautiful

flowers.

And let them all make seeds so there can be new plants when the old ones die.”

So there were.

And God said, “That’s good.”

Then, God said, “Let there be a golden sun in the sky in the daytime,

and a silver moon at night.”

So there was.

And God said, “That’s good.”

Though God did many more things than these, this was a very good beginning!

Here ends the first part of God’s story about making a world.

Our second reading this morning is a story about a young boy named Samuel.

Also adapted from Ralph Milton’s Family Story Bible, from the first book of Samuel, Chapter 3, verses 1-10, ‘God Calls Samuel’.

Samuel was very young when his mother, Hannah, took him to live with Eli in

God’s house.

Samuel did his very best to help Eli, who seemed to get older and older every day.

Samuel helped Eli with dressing and eating.

With Eli’s eyes getting so bad, Samuel also helped with things Eli had trouble

seeing.

It was hard work for Samuel because he was still a young boy.

One night, Samuel and Eli were getting ready for bed.

They were both very tired.

Just as Samuel was drifting off to sleep, he thought he heard someone calling his

name.

The voice called out “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel jumped out of bed and ran to where Eli was sleeping.

“Eli, I heard you calling out to me! What do you need?”

“I didn’t call you, Samuel” said Eli.

“Go back to bed and go back to sleep.”

So Samuel, wanting to be a good servant to Eli, went back to his own bed.

He tried and tried to go to sleep but he couldn’t.

Then he heard the sound of a voice calling again.

It sounded like this: “Samuel! Samuel!”

Again, thinking it was Eli calling, Samuel went and woke him up.

By now Eli was starting to get annoyed.

“Samuel, I did not call you. Go back to sleep!”

Again Samuel did what Eli had told him to do.

But he couldn’t get back to sleep. In fact, he was now wide awake.

Again, he heard the same voice calling.

He was absolutely sure it was calling his name.

Samuel was certain Eli was playing a game with him.

Now Eli was as wide awake as Samuel was.

Suddenly Eli realized what was happening.

“Samuel,” he said, “God is trying to get your attention.

Next time you hear God’s voice say these words:

“Here I am, God, please speak for I am ready to listen.

I want to do my best to be your Servant.”

Samuel did exactly as Eli had told him to do.

As he waited and waited in the dim darkness of the night,

he noticed a very faint light coming from the inner area of the temple.

This helped to feel less worried about what was happening.

But, the longer he waited, the more concerned Samuel became.

Just as he was wondering to himself “Why would God want to speak with me?

I’m still a boy”,  he heard the voice again. “Samuel, Samuel,” it called.

Somehow Samuel managed to find his own voice and remembering Old Eli’s

words he said this: “Here I am, God, please speak to me again.

I’m ready to listen for what you are trying to tell me.

I’m ready to be your Servant.”

This was but the beginning of a new way of being in relationship for Samuel,Eli and God.

Here ends our second reading for this morning.

Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.

Thanks be to God, amen!