Readings for 25th Sunday after Pentecost, 11/18/12:
1 Samuel 1:4-20, 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25, Mark 13:1-8
1 Samuel 1:4-20:
- "because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb." In a society that valued the fertility of women so highly, Elkanah's treatment of Hannah is particularly sweet.
- I'm amazed at Hannah's generosity - she prays for a child, but promises to give that child to God. Could you ask for and receive a gift from God, and then turn and offer that gift back to God in thanks?
- Eli accuses Hannah of being drunk because of her prayer-behavior. The Bible has some interesting examples of people being touched by God and having others accuse them of drinking! I guess that is the dramatic affect God's action in our lives can have.
- Eli, being set straight about what Hannah is doing, doesn't dismiss her, but acts as an agent between her and God. Do you ever act like Eli for someone seeking to connect to God?
- This is Hannah's song of thanksgiving for giving birth to Samuel. This reading, poetry, takes the place of a psalm today.
- Hannah thanks God for being one-of-a-kind.
- She also recognizes that God's work is in particular on behalf of the poor, the low-down.
- How do you thank God when God answers your prayers? Do you remember to do so?
- More from the author of Hebrews on the "Jesus' sacrifice is once and for all" theme. I think I get the message!
- The author quotes verses from Jeremiah 31:33-34 - I love the idea of God writing God's law on our hearts and minds - a better place for us to remember it and live it than in books!
- The author means all these words to give us confidence and faith, because we know that in Christ's sacrifice we are already forgiven.
- "Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds" - Another good verse. We often provoke people around us, but usually when we do so, it is not in a good way! Here, we're encouraged to provoke each other in a positive way, a way that inspires serving God. Good advice!
- Jesus seems to predict the destruction of temple, and these words in particular are later used against him in his trial, when other concerns against him don't seem to 'stick'.
- The disciples, like many of us, want to know the "signs of the times," when the end is coming. Jesus says we'll know when imposters, claiming authority and our discipleship abound. He speaks about wars and rumors of wars. He speaks of natural disaster, and famine. With his examples, indeed, all times are full of signs that "things are about to be accomplished." Perhaps that is Jesus' point?
- Jesus describes this as "the beginning of the birth pangs," which seems to imply the more painful time is yet to come. But such an analogy also implies the joy of a new life that follows the pain of labor.