Friday, November 13, 2015

Proper 28 - Year B
Pentecost 25
1st Samuel 2:1-10
Luke 1:46-55

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 from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap.

In one of our readings this Sunday, (1st Samuel 2:1-10 which we will use in the place of a responsive Psalm)  Hannah has brought her young boy, the future prophet Samuel, to Shiloh to give thanks for his birth. What she says takes the form of a poem or a song. She even states clearly what she is about to do: She says that her “heart exults in the Lord.” A similar song appears on the lips of another young woman in Luke’s Gospel (1:46-55). With the promise of her new child on the way, Mary speaks in the nearly identical form of a song in what we now know as the Magnificat. She too says what she is about to do: She says that her “soul magnifies the Lord”

Both Hannah and Mary, in the course of the exultant songs which follow, proceed to do exactly what they’ve said they will do.

  • They exult in their hearts. 
  • They proclaim with their lips. 
  • They thank God for present circumstances. 

They do not stop there, however, and it is for this reason that their words have come to be read in Church and, in the case of the Magnificat, even learned and memorized by Christians across the ages. What these women believe and proclaim is that they find God now doing what God has always done and what God will continue to do.

  • He tosses the mighty from their seats and lifts up the lowly.
  • He nurtures what has been neglected and tossed aside as useless.
  • He proves himself faithful to the promises made to his people.
  • He provides for options and possibilities which are beyond human aptitudes and abilities.

That two women who lived long ago, and far away, were happy on two different days could be of little import to you living here and now. Good for them, you might say. Bless! These words have been preserved within the canon of the Old and the New Testament because they are dependable statements about God's character.  More importantly, they are still “effective” for Twenty-first Century Christians. The words of these two women point out of the Scriptures to the place where you live now – to that complex of life you imagine will never and could never change.

You are not in complete control of what happens to you. 

In your strongest moments you cannot manufacture your best blessings. You are not in charge.  But this is equally true for the forces, the impediments, the personal weaknesses, the fatigue, the coldness of heart, your opponents in this life or the cynicism which presently holds you back. As overwhelming as such things might seem, these are not in charge either. Hannah and Mary sung songs about it. God has no investment in straight lines and predictable outcomes. He is known for turning things upside down. God opens his hand in blessing all the time.

It happens all the time.