Thursday, October 29th 1 Samuel 1:19-20

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 1:19-20

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” I don’t know where I first heard that line. Is it something you just find out or does someone sit you down at some time and explain it to you? I don’t know. But I also don’t remember not knowing that line.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Elkanah and Hannah have a child together.

It is interesting (another reminder of the cultural divide) to see how little attention is paid in this story to the conception and birth of Samuel. After all the time spent on the sadness Hannah felt because of her failure to have a child, Samuel’s entrance into the world is captured in nine words: “In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son.”

Not a word about birth announcements, doctor visits, borrowing maternity clothes, baby shower planning, Lamaze classes, packing the hospital goody bag or redecorating a room in the house with a mural of Noah’s Ark (which, by the way, always makes me wonder….”Do they REALLY want to surround their child with THAT story about God? Do they KNOW that story?”) None of that. None of the modern “must haves” if you’re going to have a baby.

Hannah conceived and bore a son.

And she named him Samuel, which means something along the lines of, “I have asked him of the Lord.” His name was a reminder that God heard her prayers and God provided her with a son.

Now we’re back to “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” We just read about Hannah (and, I guess, Elkanah) experiencing one of the most holy moments of human life, the birth of a child. When we cut through all of the modern excesses, the birth of a child brings us back to who we really are and all the wonder and mysteries of life. Suddenly, after so much pain and waiting and changing and hoping and worrying, there appears the top of a little head in a scene that seems absolutely impossible and surprisingly normal, both at the same time, and then even more suddenly a body and a person and a baby and part of both of you and yet something or someone altogether and wonderfully new and different and amazing.

You pick him up. He shivers against you. You clean him up and wrap him up and you lay him against his mother. And although it is his first time and her first time, they figure out how to do dinner together without even going to class. And at some point you realize what you had been hoping for all along but its reality kept shifting in and out of focus – you will be bringing this child home. It is the end of a pregnancy and the beginning of life.

All these years later and it still works that way. God heard some very different kinds of prayers that night from Hannah and Elkanah.

Let us pray: Thank you Lord, for answered prayers. Thank you for the good news of a child on the way for couples who have long wondered if it would ever happen. Thank you for all of the various ways, including adoption, that new babies end up in the arms of parents who can and will take good care of them. Thank you for the mystery of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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