14 July 2019
In the Old Testament tale about the boy Samuel and the old priest Eli, it is said that Samuel’s vocation came to him before he knew the Lord. This is not as surprising as it might first appear.
There is anecdotal evidence to support the view that vocations to the ministry emerge when people are young and before they have the intellectual equipment to understand it. The call is fragile and prone to damage.
‘Samuel, Samuel!’ It was such a quiet, inconsequential beginning. And Samuel mistook the voice for the voice of another. But Eli was a wise man. He recognised the voice as the voice of God and brought the boy’s vocation to birth.
This is the ministry of older people to nurture growth and opportunity and discernment in young people. ‘Which one is going to be the minister.’ said the older women to my mother who was holding my younger brother and me in her hands!
It wasn’t uncommon in West Highland villages to hear people talk like this. If there were boys in the family, one of them would surely become a minister. I heard the comment but didn’t understand what it meant. Now, of course, I do!