As posted earlier, part of yesterday's service was the challenge to come up with a mini-sermon during the time it took to sing a hymn, approximately three minutes. The readings chosen - of which I did not have notice - were 1 Samuel 3:1- 10 and Luke 9: 10-17. So here, in typed up form is roughly what I did.
I did cheat slightly, and allude to the Johannine version of the feeding of the 5000, so children became central to both stories (a link to Operation Christmas Child which we were launching).
From the Samuel story, I picked up the fact that to start with he did not know who was calling, assuming it to be Eli. Once he had the knowledge of the caller's identity he had a choice - to respond or not. Had we read on in the story, we would have heard the nature of the call, and Samuel had a choice whether or not to obey (it would have been pretty scary having to tell Eli some home truths).
In the second story (according to John anyway) is a child with a 'picnic' (Sunday School interpretation) who is in a roughly similar situation. Presumably he could have just eaten his food himself, but, it seems that once he became aware of the situation he gave, so far as we can tell, all that he had in response (parallel to widow's mite or woman with expensive ointment?). How the miracle happened, we don't know, but what we do know is that out of this response, out of this giving of a little, there came so much abundance that twelve baskets were needed to gather the leftovers.
How does this relate to us? All of us have in some way, like Samuel, come to know about important issues (Operation Christmas child, the situation in Zimbabwe, violent street crime in the UK, etc) and we have to make a choice as to how we respond. We may not have much to offer - a tube of toothpaste, a teddy bear, a small amount of money to BMS or HMF - but out of that small, willing offering, comes an abundance of joy and grace.
As God calls called Samuel, as Jesus told the disciples to feed the people, so the call comes to us today: how will we respond.
It was a good challenge, and I guess a reasonable knowledge of familiar Bible stories made it easier than might have been the case had someone chosen an obscure passage from the middle of Judges or Leviticus, but it was one I'd be quite keen to repeat occasionally or, more creatively, to open up and invite congregation members to share what touched them in the stories and how it relates to life and faith. Communal hermeneutics and homiletics - what do you reckon?