With the trimmings and trappings of Christmas behind us, this time of year can often be a bit of a letdown. It almost seems like we spend so much time preparing for Jesus’ arrival into our lives again that when he finally gets here we are caught off guard by what we’re being asked to do. This is particularly ironic given that the message of Advent is “Get Ready!”
Often the appointed readings for the time after Epiphany (Remember, Epiphany is just one day, January 6th) center around call stories. On January 7th, Baptism of our Lord, we read the call story of our Lord and Savior, Jesus as God’s servant; January 14th, we hear of Samuel’s calling and the calling of the first deciples; and the Gospel on January 21st is the story of the calling of the fishermen disciples. It isn’t until January 28th that we hear about the healing of one with an unclean spirit.
It isn’t only the Gospel stories that speak of God’s call, the appointed psalms for these Sundays also follow the call theme.
We sing of God’s powerful voice in Psalm 29, the Lord searches us out in Psalm 139, and God speaks to us personally in Psalm 62. The psalms encapsulate a wide range of human experience and relationship with God, and these examples speak across the ages to us today.
We respond to these themes and share them in the music we sing with some of the great call songs in our hymnal. “Here I Am, Lord,” “You Have Come Down to the Lakeshore,” “We Are Called,” and “The Summons” are centerpieces of this time of year. God calls us and we respond eagerly to the call.
As I said earlier, this time of year can be a letdown after the glitter of Christmas. Perhaps God calls us this time of year to remind us that the darkness comes to an end. While some of the coldest days may be ahead of us, the darkest days are behind us. The days are getting longer and we are looking forward to the mountaintop experience of Transfiguration a few short weeks away. Perhaps God calls us to prepare us for the spiritual plain of Lent which eventually leads to the cross. Perhaps there’s something else in our lives, or in the life of the church now that God is calling us to.
Spend some time thinking with me about what God may be calling you or us to this year and let us remain open to those places where we might respond by saying, “Send me!”