Today we have readings of two young boys who have dedicated their lives to God. Both of them have chosen to spend time ministering within His temple. One of them is Samuel and the other is Jesus. They share another similarity. In the scriptures it is recorded that the both grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man.
How many of our young people today make a high priority of spending time with God? The formative years of children determine, to a large degree, who they will become and how they will lead their lives. If young people are no longer interested in the Church then who is to blame?
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
There are dividends for meditating on the Word of God, both in this lifetime and in the life to come. Our young people live in a very confused world as do we all. What is the remedy?
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. (Colossians 3:15-16)
We need the Word of God. We need it down in our spirit and our soul. Our young people are starving for the Word.
Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. (James 1:21-22)
Alternate Readings for the Episcopal Church
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:6-18)
Are we born of God? The Son of God came into the world so that we might be reborn. This is not a physical birth. It is a spiritual one whereby we take on the very nature of God. Jesus attempted to explain this birth to Nicodemus in his famous visit to Jesus in the dark of night:
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”
“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”
Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:3-8)
What does this new birth mean to us today? It means that we have been given the power of the Holy Spirit to transform our lives. All we have to do is believe and receive the gift that Christ has provided for us:
Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian.
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children. And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. (Galatians 3:23-25; 4:4-7)
We strive so much for personal power and fulfillment. But if we would but yield to Christ He would give us a power far beyond ourselves:
But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.