Proper 28 Year B (11/18/12)

10 Nov

1 Samuel 1:4-20 & 1 Samuel 2:1-10 (as a canticle)  or Track 2 Daniel 12:1-3

Hebrews 10:11-14(15-18)19-25

Mark 13:1-8

Psalm 16 (Track 2)

Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.               

Opening Questions

  • How does the act of prayer bring the ability to heal?
  • How does the act of prayer bring the opportunity to learn something about yourself?
  • When we experience tough times, should we pursue different (perhaps more creative) prayers? 

 Appointed Passages

 1 Samuel 1:4-20

4On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; 5but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7So it went on year after year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8Her husband Elkanah said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’

9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord.  Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. 11She made this vow: ‘O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.’

12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.’ 15But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.’ 17Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.’ 18And she said, ‘Let your servant find favour in your sight.’ Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.

19 They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked him of the Lord.’

1 Samuel 2:1-10 (Hanna’s prayer as a canticle for today)

2Hannah 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.
3Talk 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.
4The bows of the mighty are broken,
   but the feeble gird on strength.
5Those 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.

6The Lord kills and brings to life;
   he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
   he brings low, he also exalts.
8He 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 honour.
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.
10The 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.’

  • Does the goal of bearing a son have the same significance in our culture today as in Hannah’s time?
  • Does a woman’s ability to bear children place a special responsibility on them (vs. men)?
  • The birth of a new child is joyous, but is accompanied both initially and over time with many challenges – including personal pain and discomfort (primarily for the mother, but fathers are not totally exempt – speaking from experience).  How are these challenges different from the other difficulties in life?

Hebrews 10:11-14(15-18) 19-25

11 And every priest stands day after day at his service, offering again and again the same sacrifices that can never take away sins. 12But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, ‘he sat down at the right hand of God’, 13and since then has been waiting ‘until his enemies would be made a footstool for his feet.’ 14For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. 15And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us, for after saying,

16‘This is the covenant that I will make with them
   after those days, says the Lord:
I will put my laws in their hearts,
   and I will write them on their minds’,
17he also adds,
‘I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.’
18Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin.

19 Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

{Montreal Commentary:  Christ’s sacrifice allows us to enter into God’s presence (“sanctuary”, v. 19) boldly, now that there is no longer a barrier (“curtain”, v. 20) between the faithful and God, and since Christ is “a great [high] priest” (v. 21) who has sacrificed for the Church (“house of God” ), we have three privileges/duties: we can and must –

  1. approach God in faith with clear consciences (v. 22);
  2. hold fast” (v. 23) to our statement of faith (made at baptism), reciprocating God’s fidelity to us, and
  3. stimulate the expression of “love and good deeds” (v. 24) in others.}
  • What action is necessary for us to take in order to receive forgiveness for our sins?
  • How does taking these actions affect the quality of the relationships you have with family and community?

Mark 13: 1-8

1As he came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!’ 2Then Jesus asked him, ‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.’

3 When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, 4‘Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?’ 5Then Jesus began to say to them, ‘Beware that no one leads you astray. 6Many will come in my name and say, “I am he!” and they will lead many astray. 7When you hear of wars and rumours of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. 8For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birth pangs.

  • If buildings are temporary, what aspects of life are permanent and thus deserve greater attention?
  • Jesus suggests we expect continuing life challenges.  How do we translate them into personal growth?
  • Jesus seems to be suggesting (“Many will come in my name and say,’I am he!’”) that we should carefully assess the motivations of our leaders (particularly those whose articulated goal is to help guide our souls).  If so, how can we do so?

Comment

We are reminded today of the success of prayer by the old testament lesson from Samuel when Hannah’s prayer was answered with a son.  Then, the new testament (Hebrews) directs that through the life and death of Jesus, we have three priviledges (perhaps also construed as duties) to approach God with clear consciences, hold fast to our faith, and stimulate the expression of “love and good deeds” – apparently by our personal example.  Finally, Jesus reminds us in the Gospel of Mark that our world is not enduring – and that perhaps we ought continue to remember our earthly existence is transitory – it will end.

The value of thinking about these things is to come to grips with what is enduring.  If our world and all the physical things in it are not the point, then what is?  I think the point is our ability to live hardships by engaging personal strength from our faith.  This strength translates into resilience which allows us to endure yet transform the bad times into building strong character.  There is an old Marine Corps saying that comes to mind, “…if it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger”.  I submit that this may be true; but only if you have the right attitude and know how to learn from the mistakes and difficulties that sometimes seem to hit you randomly in life.

There is another key element; the impact of life’s experiences on those around us.  Relationships are the true testing ground for character.  How we translate life’s difficulties into stronger relationship – or perhaps the personal strength to walk away from relationships that we have learned cannot work – thus freeing up our time and ability to forge new relationships with more beneficial results – is an unusually important skill to develop.

My prayer for all is that we reflect on the impact of life’s challenges to our heart and soul.  Do we reflect the love of God in our hearts and use it to temper the needs of others in strengthening our relationships? 

Quotes for Today:

Life is the only real counselor; wisdom unfiltered through personal experience does not become a part of the moral tissue.

Edith Wharton

These days people seek knowledge, not wisdom. Knowledge is of the past, wisdom is of the future.

Vernon Cooper

I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable.

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

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