By Rev. Liz Mosbo VerHage
Daily Lectionary reading:1 Samuel 2:1-10; Genesis 21:1-21; Galatians 4:21-5:1
Selected passage for reflection: 1 Samuel 2:1-10 (NLT)
2:1 Hannah prayed:
I’m bursting with God-news! I’m walking on air.
I’m laughing at my rivals. I’m dancing my salvation.
Nothing and no one is holy like God, no rock mountain like our God.
Don’t dare talk pretentiously— not a word of boasting, ever!
For God knows what’s going on.
He takes the measure of everything that happens.
The weapons of the strong are smashed to pieces, while the weak are infused with fresh strength.
The well-fed are out begging in the streets for crusts, while the hungry are getting second helpings.
The barren woman has a houseful of children, while the mother of many is bereft.
God brings death and God brings life, brings down to the grave and raises up.
God brings poverty and God brings wealth; he lowers, he also lifts up.
He puts poor people on their feet again; he rekindles burned-out lives with fresh hope,
Restoring dignity and respect to their lives— a place in the sun!
For the very structures of earth are God’s; he has laid out his operations on a firm foundation.
He protectively cares for his faithful friends, step by step, but leaves the wicked to stumble in the dark.
No one makes it in this life by sheer muscle! God’s enemies will be blasted out of the sky, crashed in a heap and burned.
God will set things right all over the earth, he’ll give strength to his king,
he’ll set his anointed on top of the world!
This is the second day of reading Hannah’s Song, found in 1 Samuel. Today’s translation shows off different features of this passage, and invites us to look again at the power that is found within a woman giving birth, a woman waiting and trusting God for her future, a woman whose “yes” helped bring about liberation and life for so many others.
Hannah’s song of praise reflects both her answered prayer from God for a child, but also magnifies the ways that Jehovah Jireh God provides for all those who cry out, for all those who find themselves with unanswered prayers. Whether the poor, the oppressed, those without a family or community that looks as they had hoped, Hannah is declaring that God sees, God provides, God reverses the way of things to liberate all those in need. And God didn’t provide for just one individual in this story - Hannah’s Song reminds us that God is a God of all those who call on His name. Hannah’s personal faithfulness is also what makes a way for the gift of Samuel, the first prophet for the whole people of God - through one woman’s yes to God, and her faith in a God who will provide, a leader that will impact a whole people is born.
This translation also reminds us that God works in all things - not just the easy, the good, or in the times of provision. This Advent season, notice where God is reminding you that in the waiting, the wondering, in our questions and in our doubts, in seasons of plenty and of lack, that whenever we cry out for more from God and whenever we trust the future that God is birthing, we find life! It is so often here, in the everyday places of real life and real struggle, the trust in what we can’t yet see, a “yes” even while our voice might be quivering - that God shows up.
There are many ways that God invites us to help birth new life, trust, and liberation into the world - both women or men, those who are biological parents and those who parent in many other ways, and all those who faithfully give their “yes” when God wants to conceive a new thing through us. What comes to mind that God might be asking you to help birth - for you? For your community or church? How do you trust God in the everyday for what might be birthed?
Gracious God, thank you for the record of faithful leaders in Your story that point us back to the truth of who You are. We declare with Hannah, You are a providing, protecting, way-making God who births new life and new liberation into this world! Help us trust in you, rest in you, remember our past with you God, even in seasons when we can’t see you working, when we are waiting in the dark. Thank you that you are a God who hears, responds, and moves for those who most need You, for those on the margins, for us as individuals, and for the whole world. Through Advent God, help us trust you are working in us, birthing life, hope, peace, joy, and love. Amen.
About the Author
Liz is a pastor, preacher, adjunct professor, and ministry coach who is passionate about building healthy leaders and systems to equip the church to do better. She enjoys empowering women and women of color through coaching, and facilitating Anti-Racism discipleship within the ECC and beyond. She and her husband Peter live in the Seattle area with their tween, teenager, and goldendoodle, and enjoy PNW beaches, mountains, and Thai food together.