A Christmas reflection for Wednesday, December 27th by Ms. Grace Newswanger
Lectionary reading for 12/27/2023:Luke 1:46b-55; 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Mark 11:1-11
Selected passage for reflection: 1 Samuel 2:1-10
1 Samuel 2: NRSV
Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.
2 ‘There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.
5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world.
9 ‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail.
10 The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.’
“We must show our might to bring peace.” The words hang loudly at the City Council meeting where the Mayor of our small city uses his platform to justify why the local government will not be releasing an official statement of resistance to events occurring on the world stage. An immediate shift in the room follows. My anabaptist roots internally scream “what does that mean?! What is mighty??”
A show of might leading to the perception of reduced conflict is not a new tactic. Hannah knew this. For years, she had suffered at the “might” of her husband’s wife, Peninnah, who held one of the ultimate powers for female bodied folks in that time: the ability to bear children, specifically sons. Hannah, as many Biblical matriarchs before and after her, was barren. And so she prayed.
By 1 Samuel 2, Hannah has given birth to a son, a prophet. Recognizing the source of her own strength, she leans into the truth that the Divine has the ability to shift perspective. Not working within our imperfect confines, the Divine will flip traditional “knowledge” on its head. “Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.” The author writes; “The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength.” This promise of hope, of shift, of change is important. It shows what “mighty” can be when the knowledge of the Divine is used. According to Oneness, might is found in resistance; the poor, the vulnerable, the hungry, the barren. This is what the Divine raises to “might.” Being “mighty”, therefore, is not killing conflict. It is not always comfortable or painless. Instead, being mighty is aligning with the Divine in our brokenness. This happens through prayer, this happens through Divine knowledge, this happens through relationships, this happens through community. It is both within and outside of ourselves that we can continuously answer the question of “what is mighty?”
Where is the Divine calling you to flip “accepted” power on its head? How are you being asked to redefine what is mighty? As we begin to shift perspectives together, encourage others around you to hold you accountable, in community and watch what growth can happen!
Oh Divine, eternal love of both the mighty and the meek, gives us your eyes, your heart, your spirit. Help us to be open to the important shifts of perspective that will help to affirm and encourage truth in the world. Thank you for giving us opportunities over and over to love well. Amen.
About the Author
Grace Newswanger, MACh (she/her) is a hospital chaplain based in the northeastern United States. When not at work, Grace enjoys spending time hiking, playing with her doted upon cat, Myla, reading and spending time with her spouse as they get ready for the arrival of their first child this winter. In the future, Grace hopes to become a CPE Educator, training others to become chaplains.