1 Samuel 1:420
Samuel is born to Hannah and Eli.
1 Samuel 2:110 (VU p. 878)
The song of Hannah.
Hebrews 10:1114, (1518), 1925
Provoke one another to love and good deeds.
Not one stone of the Temple shall be left standing.
Christians throughout history (including American fundamentalists as recently as the spring and fall of 2011) have predicted the date of the destruction of the world. Technology allowing, begin this service with a three- to four-minute clip of some of these predictions and a view of the magnificent buildings that are predicted to fall (as Jesus says in the Mark reading). Find some dramatic videos of earthquakes in various places (Mark 13:8), but end the video with images of peace and harmony, of people in restored relationships, and of the redemption of nature.
Theme Engagement Question
What are you longing for in your life? Not material goods. Not little wishes. What are you truly longing for deep down within your soul? Have you talked to God about it?
Read to the children the story about Hannah and Samuel from Ralph Miltons Family Story Bible (Westminster/John Knox, 1997) and talk with them about how God works to bring a good future for the world.
In both the reading from the Hebrew scriptures and the reading from Marks gospel, there is a sense of deep longing. Hannah prays in the Temple, pouring out her heart before God, praying that she might have a son. Old Eli mistakes her movement in prayer for drunkenness. Hannah bravely protests to the high priest, and her petition is granted. She bears a son, whom she names Samuel.
After predicting the destruction of the Temple, Jesus speaks of the signs of the end of the age. As I read this little apocalypse I was taken by the hope in Jesus reference to the beginning of the birth pangs (Mark 13:8). You might talk about waiting for a baby to be born from your own experience if youve been there as mother, father, relative, friend, or health care person. A new age is about to be born, Jesus says: not for destruction but for salvation; not for evil but for good; not redemption for a few but for the whole creation; rather than the approach of salvation for a few, a (very United Church) gospel of Good News for all the world. Readers might want to look at Texts for Preaching by Brueggemann, Cousar, Gaventa, Newsome, Year B (Westminster/John Knox, 1993) pp. 594595.
VU 405 New every morning
VU 424 May the God of hope
VU 644 I was there to hear your borning cry
VU 649 Walk with me
VU 658 O Love that wilt not let me go
VU 713 I see a new heaven
VU 716 My life flows on