In 1946 Victor Frankel published Man’s Search for Meaning. Frankel was an Austrian psychiatrist, Jewish, liberated from a
area concentration camp in April, 1945. His wife and parents had died in the camps, and Frankel wrote about his experiences, particularly about how hard it was for him to feel joy again. Dachau
For 20th century secularism Frankel restates a basic Christian affirmation: all life has meaning and God’s call to us includes the spiritual work of discerning that meaning and bringing it to life in our lives.
Today’s collect tells us of a meaning of life in the church – “that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.” The child looking at the stained glass said, “saints are the people the light shines through.” We are God’s saints in
Bessemer City, and , and as we say in the “Lift up your hearts” the Sursum corda, “It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.” Asheville
When we realize the meaning of our lives we “shine with the radiance of Christ’s glory.” Realize means to make real – to make real internally that is to understand and to act on some thought or feeling – and also to make real externally – to bring a thought or feeling into being – “always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”
Samuel was asleep in the temple of the Lord. Samuel was a special child. Hannah had no children and her husband Elkanah’s second wife Peninnah taunted Hannah. Barrenness ran in the family. Abraham and Sarah’s maid Hagar had taunted Sarah after the birth of Ishmael. Isaac and Rebecca were barren for 20 years before Esau and Jacob. Jacob’s 2nd wife Rachel whom he loved also barren until Joseph and Benjamin. Later Elisha’s prayers brought a son to the Shunamite woman (2 Kings 4). And Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mother, also old and barren.
Samuel was special, specially dedicated to God’s service. It was a spiritually dry time. “The word of the LORD was rare in those days” as the King James says, “there was no open vision.” The temple was corrupt. High priest Eli allowed his sons Hophni and Phinehas to cheat those who came to sacrifice. In a time of spiritual dryness, need, and corruption God call Samuel. The prophecy was true; the wicked sons died in battle. Samuel realized his calling to revive the people, to be a good and righteous judge, to “shine with the radiance” to prepare the people for the realized
. kingdom of David
In God’s good time his son Jesus was born, the Word made flesh, and began his ministry of reconciliation with John’s baptism in the
. Ministry is not solitary, and Jesus began by recruiting his disciples. This week we hear of Philip and Nathaniel, next week St. Mark’s account of Andrew and Peter, James and John. And then the ministry beginning in Jordan of teaching and healing and casting out demons. Capernaum
Jesus returned to
Galilee, the area where he had been brought up. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and Judea didn’t think much of Galileans. Galilee was part of the northern kingdom of Israel whose 10 tribes had been deported by Assyria 7 centuries before. The road from Egypt to Mesopotamia passed through Galilee and the people were more susceptible to influence from foreign ideas than was. It had been ruled from Jerusalem for only about 100 years. Philip was from a fishing village on the north shore of the Jerusalem Sea of Galilee. He realized internally that Jesus was the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Messiah, and when Jesus called him realized that fulfillment by following Jesus and by sharing his realization with his brother Nathaniel. “Sitting under the fig tree” from Micah 4:4 was a metaphor for bible study. Nathaniel’s question reflected the skeptical attitude of the Jewish leaders toward Galilee, but Philip’s response is fundamental evangelism, “Come and see!”
If we are to be faithful to Christ’s call on our lives, if we are indeed, as we pray in the collect, to “shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth” we begin with “come and see.” Someone brought us to see – to see Jesus in his church, in the people of God, in his word written and preached, to see Jesus in baptism and in the holy communion. We saw, and we realized Jesus in our hearts and in our lives.
Victor Frankel came to know the meaning of life in the concentration camps, in the loss of wife and parents, in the gradual recovery of joy in freedom. We know the meaning of life in Jesus, and as begin to “shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth.”