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Here I Am, Lord

Updated: Nov 3, 2021

Message for worship at West Richmond Friends Meeting, 17th of First Month, 2021

Speaker: Katie Breslin

Scripture: 1 Samuel 3:1-12, NRSV

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end."

This is Fine ~KC Green

Good morning West Richmond Friends --

It is very strange to be back at this podium. The last time I was here the world was on fire and we were discussing meeting online and yet the majority of you are online and the world is still on fire . . . so some things never change.

I want to thank Lyn for being the worship leader for today and for picking out this hymn “Here I am Lord”. She didn’t know it at the time, but it is one,of my favorite hymns. This is one of the hymns that is a crossover from my Catholic roots. But it wasn’t until this week, looking over the lyrics, that I realized...I have been singing this hymn wrong my whole life. Very specifically the chorus. The lyrics for the chorus are

“ Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?

I have heard you calling in the night

I will go, Lord, if you lead me

I will hold your people in my heart”

So when I was a kid - I would sing very quietly “I will go Lord” and then really let the next line rip “if you NEED ME”. Need me. If you need me. It completely changes the whole song. And no offense to Dan Schutte, who composed the song, but I like my lyrics better. It feels more true to how I’ve experienced God’s call because whenever I’ve heard God’s call I feel more reluctant than having the clarity of mind to be grateful for God’s leadership.

My experience of discerning God’s call is that it often happens in the metaphorical night, just like it did for Samuel. And like the song says, the strength I’ve needed to fulfill the call has come from the people around me. Community has been a central part of my faith, so often it is the community,

in particular elders, that help me figure out what God is saying in the moment.

I think about my call to go to seminary in this way.

The first person to talk about Earlham School of Religion was Matt Hisrich, former Dean of Earlham School of Religion and at the first time I met him, Director of Admissions. I was aware of Earlham School of Religion, but I hadn’t given it much thought. I was staying with Rob and Sue Settlage, two incredible FCNL supporters and Friends from Whittier Friends Meeting, and Matt was taking a delegation from ESR to visit Whittier.

It was not a good day for me. It was January of 2017, the first few days of the Trump presidency. I had been traveling for at least a week, and I had just given a training that was supposed to have 20 people at it and instead it had 60. You would think that this was exciting, and it was, but the amount of extra adrenaline needed for a group 3 times as big as I was expecting after traveling for so long was exhausting. Plus, after the training, a well-meaning Friend tried to give me advice as I was walking out exhausted. I was driving to Rob and Sue’s house to have dinner with this ESR delegation and I just -- couldn’t do it. I pulled over and cried in my car, overwhelmed by the world, by the new reality I was facing, and by the feeling that I had failed this training. I missed the dinner, but I made it to the dessert round.

It was there that I met Matt. He gave me his card and we talked a bit about ESR. FCNL has a small fund for staff to take grad school classes and I was starting to become convinced, so I thought perhaps I would take a class or two. Matt emailed me later to follow up and ask if I still wanted to submit my application. I ended up declining his offer to apply. It seemed overwhelming

for me to think about doing grad school when my FCNL responsibilities were increasing with the new administration.

I was not ready to hear God’s call.

That year of 2017 was one of the hardest years of my life, and that is saying something because of how incredibly hard 2020 has been. My workload had increased, my stress levels were up and my 7-year relationship ended at the end of 2017. Going into 2018, I felt messy.

One silver lining was that I felt like I finally had time to dedicate to exploring my faith, and I will always be grateful for the ways that FCNL fostered my relationship to Quakerism. Truly Diane, my boss Jim and our Quaker Field Secretary Christine Ashley gave me the opportunities I needed to explore my curiosity around Friends. They allowed me the opportunity to attend Friends General Conference’s Gathering in 2018 and attend a full workshop on clerking with Arthur Larrabee, truly one of the most important workshops of my life. I was fortunate enough to sit next to Steve Angell,

who would later become my academic adviser, my mentor and my friend.

We were fast friends during that workshop, and I deeply enjoyed his sense