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October 1, 2023

The Story of Nobody to Somebody

Pastor KJ Kim

1 Samuel 16: 1-13; 2 Corinthians 5: 6-17

Today’s story goes like this: King Saul, who was Israel’s first king, had been a huge disappointment in office. So, God told Samuel to go and find and interview another king. God sent Samuel to Bethlehem, to the house of Jesse. When Samuel blamed himself for failing his mission to find a new king when he was about to leave after seeing the seven sons, he said to Father Jesse—“Is that all of your sons?”

Then Jesse paused and said, “Oh, wait a minute; I forgot. These seven brothers have a little brother. I don’t think you would be interested in him. He is just a young boy, so young that the only chore he could do is to watch the sheep.” Then, God said to Samuel, “This is the one, anoint him.” Who knew?

We know stories never happen in a vacuum, always in a context. What is revealed to us in society that still judges people based on their appearances, often called standard? We often do what God told Samuel not to do: look at appearances. We categorize, stereotype, and slot people without noticing their true selves that may be hidden behind their appearance. We often value those who look good at what they do.

So, Paul’s letter, another of today’s passages, maybe the good news that we need to listen to again-- God chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong. And God chose what the world considers low-class and low-life—what is considered to be nothing—to reduce what is considered to be something to nothing.

Who knew—God chose the old couple—Abraham and Sarah--who had no child but to become the father of faith and the mother of nations. Who knew—God chose the Israelites who were enslaved people in Egypt—the collection of nobodies—but who carried God’s future and the seed of God’s nation. Who knew—Jesus, the son of God, was born in the barn and manger, rode a donkey, not a white horse, sat and hung out with sinners and outcasts and low-class minorities, not the religious leaders or upper-class majority. Who knew—Jesus revealed his divinity as the son of God by dying on the cross, not to bring the heaven-troops to overturn the Roman empire.

As from the ancient story, the prophet Samuel is directed to dismiss the claims of the older brothers, who no doubt thought they were to be chosen. Jesus dismisses and flips over all of the world's assumptions, expectations, and norms—by choosing the weak and foolish and nothing to shame the strong or something in the world.

A human point of view is to value what the world values and to reward accordingly. However, the calling for us as a church is to have the capacity to see and value people and things differently, to recognize the small kid David as King David, and to recognize a just carpenter guy or sometimes a stranger around us as a carrier of God’s presence for life with gifts for all of us.

Thanks be to God.

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