Sunday, Nov 14, 2021

1 Samuel 1:4-20 

On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. So it went on year by 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. Her 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?” 

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. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. She 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.” 

As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.” But 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. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.” 

Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.” 

Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.  They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. In 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 

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. 

“There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; 

there is no Rock like our God. 

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 bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. 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. 

The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. 

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. 

“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. 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.”

         I love this story about Hannah, because of how true it rings to me about women’s experiences of being overlooked, misunderstood, or belittled for being a woman, or being emotional.  I love Hannah’s honest response.  

         And I love Hannah’s song of praise to God, especially for how similar it is to Mary’s song of praise, now called the Magnificat.  Let’s spend some time with both subjects.

Here’s Mary’s Magnificat, (Luke 1: 46-55), her song of praise to God after she has accepted becoming the mother of Jesus, and has rushed to greet her kinswoman Elizabeth, who is also unexpectedly pregnant:

And Mary said, 

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. 

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 

for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 

He has shown strength with his arm; 

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 

according to the promise he made to our ancestors, 

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

GUIDED MEDITATION

Find a comfortable spot in the chair or on the sofa, with your hands open and receptive and your feet resting easily on the floor. With your eyes closed, begin to scan your body for any tension, tightness or dis-ease. Beginning at your feet, flex and relax the muscles in your toes, the arches of your feet, your ankles. Let go of any tightness in the calves of your legs; relax any tension in your thighs and let your stomach muscles just go slack. Begin to take in a few deep breaths, and as you inhale, breathe in God’s light and love, God’s strength and healing power. As you breathe out, imagine surrounding yourself with that light, love, and healing power, much as the candle flame on our table is surrounded by light and heat.

Feel the chair or sofa supporting your back. Relax the muscles in your shoulders. Release any tension in the muscles of your upper arms, your lower arms, your palms, and fingers. Feel any tightness flowing out the tips of your fingers. Again, breathe in God’s light, love, strength, and healing power. Breathe out all things that seem heavy or burdensome. Hand over to God all cares, worries, and responsibilities, things that need to be done and things we wish we had not done. Let God hold all those things during these moments, so that we don’t have to.

Let go of any tension in your neck and jaw. Release any tightness around your mouth and around your eyes. Imagine you can even relax behind your eyes. Let your forehead smooth out and picture all the rest of the tension in your body flowing out the top of your head. One more time, breathe in God’s light, unconditional love, and power to heal whatever needs healing in you right now. As you exhale, breathe out the things of yesterday, today, and tomorrow, so that we might meet God in God’s eternal now, where only these moments matter.

Now, think on times when you were misunderstood, underestimated, under-valued, dismissed.  Since these times may be very troubling, keep some image of God near you for protection and comfort as you imagine these old hurts.

Now, bring to mind times and things, people and situations in your life for which you are grateful.  Have a talk with your God image about what has brought or is bringing you joy, comfort, consolation, satisfaction, a feeling of WORTH!  Keep basking in the light of your blessings and conversing with the Divine until you feel filled.

WRITING PROMPT

         Write out the blessings for which you feel grateful.  Start with “I am thankful for.. and keep writing for three minutes.  Don’t edit!  Make your own, personal version of Hannah’s and Mary’s song.  Yours may be a simple list, or as elaborate as a poem or paragraph.  Don’t over-think this.  Just start writing and stop after about three minutes.  You might even want to illustrate your personal Magnificat, or Hannah’s or Mary’s with your own artwork or clippings of beauty from magazines.  Keep your Magnificat somewhere you can see it and give thanks.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, 

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 

for he has looked with favor 

on the lowliness of his servant. 

Surely, from now on 

all generations will call me blessed; 

for the Mighty One has done great things for me, 

and holy is his name. 

His mercy is for those who fear him 

from generation to generation. 

He has shown strength with his arm; 

he has scattered the proud 

in the thoughts of their hearts. 

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 

he has filled the hungry with good things, 

and sent the rich away empty. 

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy, 

according to the promise he made 

to our ancestors, 

to Abraham 

and to his descendants forever.”

“My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. 

My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. 

“There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; 

there is no Rock like our God. 

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 bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. 

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. 

The Lord kills and brings to life; 

he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 

The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. 

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. 

“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. 

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.”

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