Mandarin Sermon Translations

  • Samuel 3:1-21 God calls Samuel and YOU, John 20:21-23, Oct 15, 2021

    撒母耳3:1-21上帝呼撒母耳和你,翰福音20:21-23, 20211015

    Kids message: Story of Hannah, Elkanah and Samuel



    Don’t we often hear the stories in the Bible at arm’s length…as if it were for another time and place, for another set of people…not for us right now during our lives?




    But as Lutherans we expect every ancient text in the Bible to speak a Living Word, a message of both gospel and law…gospel: the words that comfort and assure us we are loved and totally accepted, law: words that convict or challenge us, keeping us accountable. Martin Luther understood that Jesus, in dying and rising becomes the universal Christ, comes alive and meets us in every text of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation. Luther experienced Jesus in what is described as a Living Word; he said, “the Bible has feet, it runs after me, hands, it lays hold of me.” The Bible is a collection of faith stories from different cultures, times, and places; it does not become a Living Word until we open and hear it together. According to Bible scholar Rolf Jacobson, the Bible sitting on your shelf or coffee table, is like a like a steak in the freezer. The frozen chunk of meat doesn’t become our dinner until we thaw it and grill it, so too, the Bible doesn’t become a Living Word until we hear it address us personally and communally. We gather each week to hear this Living Word speak to our lives, here and now, address us intimately, so that we can live out God’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves.


    但作为路德教徒,我们期望圣经中的每一个古代经文都能说出一个活生生的词,一个福音和法律的信息……福音:安慰和保证我们被爱和完全接受的词,法律:定罪或挑战我们、使我们负责的词。马丁路德明白耶稣在死亡和复活中成为了普世的基督,从《创世纪》到《启示录》,在圣经的每一篇经文中都能与我们相遇。路德在一个活生生的福音中经历了耶稣;他说:“圣经有脚,它追着我跑,有手,它抓住我。”圣经是来自不同文化、时代和地方的信仰故事的集合;直到我们一起打开并听到它,它才变成一个活生生的词。根据圣经学者罗尔夫雅各布森(Rolf Jacobson)的说法,放在书架或咖啡桌上的圣经就像冰箱里的牛排。在我们解冻和烧烤之前,冷冻的牛排不会成为我们的晚餐,因此,圣经也不会成为一个活生生的词,直到我们听到它对我们每个人和社区的称呼。我们每周都会聚集在一起,聆听这活生生的词,在此时此地向我们的生命诉说,亲昵地对我们讲话,这样我们才可以实践上帝的呼召,如同爱我们自己一样去爱我们的邻居。


    Today we will consider the context in which God encountered Samuel and then we will wonder together: Does God only call a few, specially gifted people or is God’s call for everyone, including you, just as you are right now? Could it be that each of us has many callings…our line of work, our role as son/daughter, neighbor, spouse, parent, citizen, grandparent…the challenge is to hear what that cross-shaped calling is throughout our lives. Hearing God’s call is what Christians call a process of ‘discernment.’




    Samuel is called at an extremely difficult time in the nation of Israel. Moses and Joshua had been strong leaders for the Israelites, as they left slavery and wandered in the wilderness. After settling in the promised land, the Israelites are led by a series of judges, who rise to help people settle disputes. Currently, Israel is not an organized or governed nation yet. In fact, Israel’s twelve tribes are falling apart. In these days, there was no king and everyone did what was right in their own eyes. In the book of Judges, an all-night gang rape and abuse of one woman by some Benjamite men leads to a civil war that nearly wipes out the tribe of Benjamin. The community preserves the tribe of Benjamin by abducting and raping another 400 women as recording in Judges 21. Things could not have been worse.




    According to New York times interview this week of an 18-year-old woman, called “N”, things in Afghanistan today mirror the horror the tribes of Israel are inflicting on one another. Two months from completing her degree is Islamic law and fulfilling her dream of becoming a judge, “N”’s family has turned on her, trying to force her to marry into the Taliban. After enduring daily beatings, she has fled her family’s brutality with the help of a friend, one day before the Taliban arrived with guns and ropes to take her by force. How many thousands of women are facing the same fate in Afghanistan today?




    The book of Samuel opens not in the halls of power but by telling the story of a woman named Hannah. Since the Bible seldom tells stories of women, dedicating the first two chapters to Hannah’s story is remarkable.  Hannah’s story restores the place of women who’ve been objectified and pushed down. Hannah and her husband Elkanah have been a barren couple. Yet Hannah longs for a child. What would seem to be a personal domestic decision has global consequences when seen across the whole span of history. Hannah begs the Lord for a child, as she and Elkanah are visiting Shiloh for their annual pilgrimage to this holy place. As she cries out to God, she encounters Eli, the priest, who accuses her of being drunk…when in fact she is desperately praying moving her lips without any audible sound.




    Despite this initial misunderstanding, Eli does promise her that God will grant her prayer. She gives birth to Samuel.  Once he’s weaned, probably 2 or 3 years old, Samuel was dedicated to God by his mother Hannah, which means he grew up in the Temple at Shiloh with Eli and his sons.




    It’s curious that Samuel could grow up in the Temple, yet he does not know the Lord. How could this be? Is it possible to grow up going to church and yet, not know the living God? In our baptismal practices with young children, we ask parents and sponsors to make a promise to nurture their child so that they may come to know the Lord…teaching them the Lord’s prayer, 10 commandments, the Apostle’s creed, the stories of faith preserved in the Bible, opening their hearts and minds to the scriptures. In baptism, we affirm God chooses the child, saying “you are mine; you belong to me.” But not only that, baptism is our call from God…God says, “learn to walk in my ways, seeking justice in the world, loving kindness, offering forgiveness and healing to the world.” In baptism, we affirm that our child does not belong to us, but to God and is called to walk God’s ways. It’s the parents’ responsibility to give their child the tools they need to access the grace of God throughout their life.




    Here at Trinity, these days, we have many parents who bring their children to be baptized who have not yet learned how to use these basic tools…are not familiar with how to pray, what the stories of faith in the Bible are, what the difference is between the law and gospel…and we also have many adults who have not yet been baptized…so we invite all into The Way Inquiry Sessions to develop the tools of prayer, honest conversation, coming alongside the scriptures in a safe community, so that in baptism these families experience not only God’s claim on their lives but have the tools to say “yes” to God’s call. To living a cross-shaped life.


    Trinity,这些天来,我们有很多父母带着他们的孩子去受洗,他们还没有学会如何使用这些基本的工具…不熟悉如何祈祷,圣经中讲的信仰故事是什么,律法和福音之间的区别是什么…我们还有很多成年人还没有受洗…所以我们邀请所有人参加The Way会议,以发展祈祷、诚实对话的工具,在安全的社区里与圣经一起,因此,在洗礼中,这些家庭不仅经历了上帝对他们生命的要求,而且拥有了对上帝的呼召说“是”的工具。活在一种十字形的生活里。


    So here is Samuel, raised in the Temple, he does not yet know God, has not yet heard the Word of the Lord. In Samuel’s day, the word of the Lord was rare…in fact it was a time when “all the people did what was right in their own eyes.” So too, Eli’s sons, did what was right in their eyes… taking advantage of women at the entrance to the temple, objectifying them, looking with greed on what was offered to God, demanding it for themselves. They took what they wanted without regard for God’s ways, saying “you must give it to me now. If not, I will take it by force.”




    So, God calls a young boy, Samuel…who was likely less than 12 years old, as he is sleeping alone in the dark with the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark contained the tablets with the 10 commands, as well as Aaron’s staff which was used to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, providing a way through the sea. The Ark was a portable power center for God, housed in the tabernacle, eventually in the center of the Temple…a powerful intensification of God’s presence on earth until 70 C.E when it was finally destroyed by the Roman Empire.




    After three tries, Samuel finally realizes he’s being addressed by a Living Word, he hears a difficult message… he’s called to be a truth teller, to name scandal and abuse. To confront Eli, whose become like a father to him, with the abusive and manipulative patterns in his family…. Eli had been warned to restrain his sons, but he had done nothing. For a young boy, likely under 12 years old, to confront his elder, this is a risky message to bear. Eli may deny it, punish Samuel, withhold food from him…any number of things…but Samuel speaks the whole truth, holding nothing back and Eli receives the message with its full weight.




    God’s call often involves working to change human systems that are broken, leading us down difficult paths. What makes you angry in the world today? What might it mean to tell the truth about it, holding nothing back, and initiate a change?




    In 1944 in Saskatchewan, Tommy Douglas was a Baptist preacher who found himself visiting folks in the hospital who couldn’t afford to pay for the medical treatments they desperately needed. In Saskatchewan people faced tough times. Farmers were working hard but prices for products were kept low to help the war effort. Depression of the 1930’s left its mark. Most farms still had no electricity and bad harvest could mean losing the farm. A trip to the hospital could mean destitution. As a preacher, Tommy had seen suffering firsthand.


    1944年在萨斯喀彻温省,汤米道格拉斯(Tommy Douglas)是一位浸信会传教士,他发现自己正在医院探望那些无力支付他们急需的医疗费用的人。在萨斯喀彻温省,人们面临着艰难的时期。农民们在努力工作,但产品价格保持在较低水平,以帮助战争。20世纪30年代的大萧条留下了痕迹。大多数农场仍然没有电,但如果收成不好,他们可能失去农场。去医院意味着贫困。作为一名传教士,汤米亲眼目睹了苦难。


     "Again, and again”, he said, “we would leave someone sitting in the hospital waiting room while we went out and borrowed or begged a few dollars here and there till we’d make up enough to pay the bill. In some cases, I knew people who simply died. I remember burying a girl fourteen years of age who had died with a ruptured appendix ... I buried a good many people that I knew, some of whom I loved. "




    The broken health care system compelled Tommy to run for political office to change it. He had a new vision for the role of government; he believed the government had responsibility to improve the lives of ordinary people.




    As he ran for premier of Saskatchewan, he faced fierce opposition. People criticized him across the province…. but Douglas won the election and by 1962, under his leadership, Saskatchewan enacted the first universal publicly funded Medicare insurance plan in North America.




    I know many of you have justified complaints about the long wait for health care here in Canada, the pandemic has pushed back surgery for several of you, but the truth is everyone has access to basic health care, including COVID vaccines. Unlike many uninsured people in the United States, you won’t become destitute if you need to be hospitalized.




    What makes you angry in the world? How might God be calling you to speak the truth about it?




    Frederick Buechner says God’s call is where the world’s great need and your deep joy meet. I wonder what that might be for you, no matter what stage of life you are in. Here at Trinity, in our life together, we are looking for people to become caregivers, developing relational skills of listening and praying, of walking with people who are hurting, not to fix them, but to be God’s healing presence. Sherry and Maureen have stepped forward to become trained to train and support all of us in a new way of caring for one another as a community of Christ. You’ll hear more about Stephen’s Ministry in November.




    Is being called by God something that happens only to a few or is it part of our lives as Christ followers? Hearing God’s call as a mother these days might be as simple as taking 15 minutes to listen and talk with my daughter without asking her to do anything. What might God be calling you to change in relationship with others…to speak the truth, holding nothing back, difficult as it may be, as a grandparent, neighbour, friend, co-worker, or student. The living Christ will give you the words and the courage you need to say “YES” to this call.



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