Grace and peace to you from God our father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ amen Today we are in the first book of Samuel Where we hear the story of Hannah The story of a barren woman having a child through God’s intervention Sound familiar? We hear stories very much like this one Over and over in the scriptures First, we have Sarah She and Abraham are promised descendants more numerous than the stars in the sky Finally, after waiting many years Sarah gives birth to Isaac in her old age Isaac married Rebecca and pleaded to God for a child Because she was barren Having twins Jacob and Esau Rachel, Jacobs favorite wife struggled with barrenness Finally giving birth to Joseph
In all of these cases The longed-for child Becomes essential To the continuation of the Story of God's people And the same thing applies to Hannah’s story Last week we left the Israelites in the desert by Mt Saini Moses has just argued God out of wiping out the people Because they worshipped the golden calf And a lot has happened to the Israelites In the mean time Moses brought the laws God had given him to the people And eventually they entered the promised land But there was no real central leadership so Things didn’t go so well In the last verse of Joshua, the book just before 1 Samuel, We hear “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did as he pleased.”
That’s where we pick up with Hanna’s story Hannah, wife of Elkanah, has no children Unlike Elkanah’ second wife Peninnah Who has several, and takes every opportunity, To belittle Hannah for her barrenness In desperation Hannah appeals to God Even promising that her child will be Returned to God's service as soon as he is old enough God hears her prayer And grants her a child A boy who she names Samuel Hannah keeps her promise And presents Samuel, still very young, To Eli, the priest What is God up to in this story? Remember that a child born in this way Will be essential to the continuation of The story of God's people
Samuel grows up in the temple He eventually is called by God to Anoint the first king of Israel So that they can raise an army And defeat the philistines Each time we hear this kind of story We see God’s power to bring hope Where there is no hope From Joseph going to Egypt a slave, And saving his family from famine To Moses, raised as a prince in Egypt Freeing the people from slavery And now Samuel anointing a king To unite the people And bring about victory against The invading army God is active in the lives of God's people
So even now as we pray for those who are ill And the families of those who have died In this global pandemic; And as we as a country struggle To return to some kind of civility in this very contentious election cycle We know that God is listening to our prayers We know that God will not abandon us And because of this We are a people of hope God brings hope where there is no hope When Jesus died It seemed as if there was no hope But God intervened And brought life from death So, what does hope look like in our situation? Where do you find hope? Hope is treating each other as children of God Even if we are on opposite sides of the political divide
Hope is working for justice To end systemic racism Hope is wearing your mask to protect others, Hope is opening our pre-school as safely as we can, So children can learn and play. Hope is praying for your enemies All these things are evidence that we are a people of hope We know we are loved And God will never abandon humanity To destruction Let us pray Great and loving God Help us in our hour of need As you helped Hannah and the people of Israel. Teach us to hope And to bring hope to those who are in despair We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord Amen.