I think over the course of my lifetime I've read the story of the call of Samuel the prophet from the Hebrew Scriptures at least two dozen times or more, but I saw something new when I read it today.
As a young child, Samuel had a nighttime vision/encounter with God where God spoke to him and gave him a prophecy to relate to the high priest. The translation of that prophecy that I read today goes something like this:
And the Lord said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle." - I Samuel 3:11
God shares with Samuel that what God is about to do will be spoken of, and the power of those descriptions of God's actions will tingle the ears of those who hear it.
God's prophecy that Samuel delivered was against the abuses and excesses of the high priest Eli, and his family. They had begun to use their position, influence, and power to further their own agendas, not God's, and there was going to be a reckoning. Justice would be done.
As I read that passage today, I couldn't help but realize that those words would create a different kind of "tingle," depending on who was hearing them.
For those who longed for justice, and equity... for those who prayed for wrongs to be made right... their ears would tingle in excitement.
But for those who were on the wrong side of this prophecy---the abusers, the power-hungry, those who exploited the poor and used religion as a weapon... they would have a different kind of tingle.
In the Gospels, when Jesus spoke to the crowds who gathered to hear him, his words would thrill the poor, the marginalized, the left out, the ordinary, the broken and those who were longing for God.
His words would also convict the repentant, and bring them to grace.
On the other hand, his words also filled the religious leaders, politicians and those only interested in the status quo with anger, dread and eventually murderous rage. It all depended on who was listening.
How do Jesus words affect you? How do you hear them?
I find my ears tingle with joy when I hear the words of Jesus that speak of love and expansive grace, but I also find myself struggling to hear the words of Jesus that call me to faithfulness, to forgive, to love my enemies.
As you move through your day today, think of the most challenging things that Jesus might say to you, and consider how you might hear those words. Pray for openness and humility. Allow yourself to find joy in the challenge.
Let your ears tingle with excitement as the words transform you and shape you into the person God dreams for you to be.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.