1 Samuel 2:1-8

Not long after our older daughter, Hannah, was born, I heard a wonderful sermon by James Forbes. At the time, Forbes was pastor of Riverside Church in New York City. Hannah, the mother of Samuel, was the focus of that sermon, specifically her story in 1 Samuel 1. Barren and ridiculed by her husband’s other wife, Hannah pleads with God for a child. When Samuel is born, she dedicates him to God’s service. I still remember Forbes’s acrostic: H A N N A H: Heaven’s Agendas and Needs and the Needs and Agendas of Humanity. Israel had a need. Hannah’s son is a gift from heaven that will speak to that need.

Today’s text recalls Hannah’s prayer after she gives birth and dedicates her son to God. Her words flow like a song, mirroring those of Mary and her Magnificat that she utters when the expectant mother of our Lord visits her cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist. Like Mary, Hannah offers words of joy and gratitude, words both prophetic and profound. Like Isaiah’s promise that a little child, not an armored warrior, will lead a peaceful kingdom, God’s rule will be one in which the poor, the outcast, the marginalized, even the barren, will be held in high regard. God is at work constantly creating new life among us and within us. 

As surprising as God’s creation of new life can be, thankfully, Advent is our opportunity to see what God is doing and participate in it. In this season of preparation and giving, let us receive God’s surprising work and unexpected blessings.


How is God creating new life in you right now? 


God of surprise and blessing, may we see the ways you are at work within us, leading us to new life. Amen.

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