Advent is about the pain and surprising hope of waiting. We see it everywhere in scripture—including in the story of Hannah in First Samuel. We see it in her inability to conceive a child, in her prayer praising God and promising to dedicate her child to service, and in the way God rewarded her obedience with Samuel. It feels like a perfect ending to a clean-cut story, but this is not what Advent is. In First Samuel 2 we read that Hannah went to the Temple for the yearly sacrifice and to visit her son; and she brought a little robe she had made for him. This reminds me of how young Samuel is and how cruel the separation from his mother must be. I feel pain in these sentences, even in the context of Hannah’s admirable courage and faith.

Hannah kept her promise to God, and throughout the centuries she has been held up as a model woman. But she also makes the tiny robe as her own act of defiance, her own reminder to herself, to Samuel, to the priest Eli, and to God. Hannah is reminding everyone that she is connected to Samuel, by birth and blood and by the trauma of letting him go. In this I see how Hannah echoes another woman who centuries later would also be asked to give up a son in return for the promise of blessing, a blessing for all people.

Hannah knows the ache of a light shining in the darkness, of receiving a miracle and also having to give it up far before she is ready. She knows what it is like to wait for a promise. And I believe Hannah transcends the transactional ways that many of us approach God. She has faith enough to voice her sadness in the midst of the miracle of life.

God, in this season of waiting for all things to be made new, let us know you are with us in our struggles, in our pain, in our miracles, and in everything in between. Amen.

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Luke 2:41-52

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Lectionary Week
December 20–26, 2021
Scripture Overview

The boy Samuel worshiped and served God from a young age. He grows in stature and favor, the same description that will later be applied to the young Jesus in this week’s reading from Luke. The psalmist praises God for raising up a “horn” for the people. This “horn” is referred to elsewhere in the Psalms as being the True King from the line of David, identified later by Luke (1:69) as Jesus. Paul encourages the Colossians to let love rule in their community and to praise God with songs and hymns (such as the Psalms). The additional readings for this special week focus our minds on the Advent of the Lord, the amazing truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as the prophets had prophesied long ago.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Where in your world do you see darkness? What lies within your power to dispel it?
Read Psalm 148. How do you experience God’s creations worshiping and praising God? How do you join in that worship?
Read Colossians 3:12-17. How are you clothing yourself with love during this season?
Read Luke 2:1-20. In what ways do you hold and ponder the story of Christ’s birth in your heart?

Respond by posting a prayer.