Grace, mercy, and peace be unto you from God, our Father, and
from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, the song and the prayer that
was chanted by Pastor is the text for this evening’s sermon, the prayer of
Hannah. One of the big tasks or skills of our kindergarten teachers here and,
for that matter, any kindergarten teacher is to teach kindergarteners…. which
is what all of us were at one time…. how to wait patiently in line for their
turn. The concept of having a turn and taking a turn, and it not always being
me, me, me, is a huge concept that is taught in kindergarten and kids learn.
You line up behind the water fountain. You line up to get your coats on and go
outside. You wait patiently for the next person to do what he needs to do.
But the problem is that, regardless of how young we were at
that time, as we have grown up, there still is the problem with us waiting.
Because waiting isn’t any fun whatsoever, and we tend to try to do all kinds of
things to either get out of waiting or to avoid it. We look at how we handle traffic.
Always trying to find a quicker way around the cars. Look at how we handle
things on the Internet. We’ve got to have a faster connection. We hate to
But so much of God’s plan, as He has shown us in his Word,
is waiting. And waiting isn’t easy, because, while we’re waiting, mischief
abounds. In watching those same kindergarteners, the line will be all smooth
and steady and then all of a sudden, they’re waiting a little bit to get into
the lunch line. Well, one wants to kind of look around. He’s kind of bored, so
he begins to play, and pretty soon two or three are playing, and the waiting is
shot out the window. And now they’re doing something they really shouldn’t be
doing. They’re not ready.
All of us waited, or better yet, all of our parents waited
patiently for us to be conceived and to be born. Even if conception came very
easily for our mother, it still took nine months of waiting. And there could be
morning sickness involved, waiting for that to get through. The waiting of
being very large and of being very heavy and the hotness or the coldness or
vice versa. All of that waiting. And there are many parents or, I should say,
many husbands and wives who have waited and waited and waited and still don’t
have a little boy or a little girl.
The Scripture this evening is about Hannah. There were three
other women mentioned in the Scriptures, very prominent women, who waited for
God to deliver their barrenness, as it were, and raise them up from the dust.
It was Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Hannah. And for many years, Hannah would
come and faithfully pray at the temple and then go and wait.
Now, whenever you and I wait, our minds play tricks upon us,
because we begin to second-guess and doubt when we wait. Did I really
understand it correctly? Am I doing something? Is that why God’s not blessing
me with a child? Is there something that we should be doing or should not be
And all those questions come into play when we’re waiting
and there’s no answer yet given. And there are very few, if any, of us that
have waited like that for anything in this life. Hence, the beauty of Hannah is
an example to us in this Advent season of waiting. Her faithfulness to prayer
is an example. In spite of seeing every single monthly cycle come and go and
there’d be no conception, she faithfully prayed and waited. How many years we
know not, but waited, and every year when they went up to the temple to offer
the sacrifice that was obligatory for them as a family, to go there and pray
again and return home and wait. And all the while that her husband’s other wife
Peninnah rubbed it in her face that she was fertile and Hannah wasn’t. And she
had to wait. Sort of like Satan taunting us in our waiting.
The thing that she also had to have been faithful in in
order to be fed during that drought of waiting is she was fed faithfully on
God’s promises and faithfully heard God’s promises, for that could be the only
food that would sustain her soul during this wilderness experience of waiting.
When God finally blessed her with Samuel, Samuel wasn’t hers; was he? She had
to give her firstborn son back to the Lord because of her vow. Entrusting him
to someone else to raise. Though she nursed him and weaned him, someone else
would raise him….Eli, the priest.
So, weaning him somewhere between three and five years old,
she left him off at the temple, turned her back and went home. I cannot imagine
the knife that must have pierced her heart as she walked away and heard in her
ears the cries of her little Samuel, entrusting him into the hands of a loving
God who had provided him for her to begin with.
Even though both of my kids haven’t been offered up to the
temple to be used by God, they’re no more mine than Samuel was Hannah’s. And they’re
a gift from God, but they are not mine to keep. And we all know as parents and
we have exhibited it to our own parents, we and our children have a mind of our
own. Interesting in talking to parents when they were the happiest, they
recount the times when their children were young, and the common response has
been to me, “That’s when I could control their environment and take care of
them, and I felt like I had the most power and responsibility over them.”
It is only as they grew older when they couldn’t fix their outs
because their insides were hurting, and they couldn’t take care of their
decisions because they were their decisions and not the parents’. So Hannah
left Samuel at that temple, entrusting him to God’s promise, which is no
different than us as husbands and wives and parents. And it was done to us by
our own parents.
There was a woman many hundreds of years later who entrusted
her son into God’s hands, and she had to witness His sacrificial death on the
accursed tree….her firstborn. And from the time He was little till the time He
died, she knew He was more than her son. She knew He was her Savior, and the relationship
of mother to son ended very clearly, as the relationship of God Savior to
creature redeemed began.
In the midst of your and my waiting, we’re like Hannah
waiting to see what God will do. You alone know those things about which
you’re waiting to see what God can do….and your kids and yourselves and your
teachers and your friends and family members and your husbands and your wives
and your fellow church members and your parents and your brothers and sisters.
What will God do?
Hannah’s prayer that Pastor canted for us is a prayer of
reversals where that which is exalted is brught low and that which is low is
exalted. That which is rich and fat is made lean, and that which is lean is
made rich and fat. Where the mighty’s bows are broken and the feeble bind on
strength. The barren have seven children, and she who has many is forlorn. The
Lord makes rich and the Lord makes poor. The Lord kills and the Lord brings to
And all the while as we are a part of this happening, we’re
like Hannah; we wait. We wait in faith like Hannah, but we wait, and there is
no way to speed it up, no way to avoid it, no way to sidestep it, no way to
preclude it. It is….not to sound fatalistic….but it is what God has placed in
your and my life. We don’t have to be happy with it. God did not ask our
permission before He laid that upon us. It was laid upon us. Now, we are
responsible to bear it. As Hannah had to bear the loss of Samuel, so we have to
bear that as well with what God lays upon us.
But when she, that is, Hannah, speaks of this raising up,
lifting the needy from the ash heap, He is speaking about you and me. That’s
our final inheritance. That’s the end of the story. It finishes with us being
triumphant. That is the Gospel story since the beginning of time, that at the
end when God comes again with glory and angels accompanying him, we will stand
victorious upon that day. We will be ushered into heaven. We will be given
crowns of eternal life. But until that day, we wait and we live out our faith
in this wilderness. And we walk and serve, trusting ourselves and entrusting
all those whom we love into the hands of a God who has revealed Himself in
Christ, the Son of Mary.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your
hearts and your minds on Christ Jesus to life everlasting.