Track 1: The Greatness of God
The temple in Jerusalem was a magnificent building. It was central to the Jewish faith. Reading from today’s appointed Gospel:
As Jesus came out of the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher, what large stones and what large buildings!” Then Jesus asked him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down.” (Mark 13:1-2)
Jesus statement was a shock to his disciples. He would soon replace the temple. Reading from John’s Gospel:
The Jews then said to him, “What sign can you show us for doing this?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken. (John 2:19-22)
How big is our God? Is he bigger than our church, our denomination? For Hannah, God was everything. She exalted him with praise. Reading from 1 Samuel:
“My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.
“There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength. (1 Samuel 2:1-4)
Hannah had been barren. She prayed to God for a son:
She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.” )1 Samuel 1:11)
When the priest Eli assured her that God would grant her prayer, she believed him, despite the fact that she had struggled for many years to have children.
God answered her prayer. Again, from 1 Samuel:
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)
Eli assured Hannah that her prayer would be answered. We have greater assurance. Heading from the Book of Hebrews:
Therefore, my friends, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:19-25)
Hannah went through difficult times. We are going through difficult times. Are we given to despair or do we encourage one another? That may depend on how big our God is and our confidence in the blood of Jesus. Through Jesus, our great high priest, we have access to the throne of God.
It is time to exalt our God with the highest praise. Praise should always be in season, but especially in difficult and trying times as these. Let us follow the example of Hannah.
“There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.”
God is greater than our problems. He is stronger than our enemies. Hannah concluded her high praise of God:
“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.
The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,
and exalt the power of his anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:9-10)
Track 2: Suggestion
Both the Old Testament and Gospel readings focus on the end times. In Mark, Jesus warns about the false “christ’s” who will lead people astray:
When he was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will this be, and what will be the sign that all these things are about to be accomplished?” Then Jesus began to say to them, “Beware that no one leads you astray. Many will come in my name and say, ‘I am he!’ and they will lead many astray. When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed; this must take place, but the end is still to come. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.” (Mark 13:3-8)
In Daniel, we also have a warning:
The Lord spoke to Daniel in a vision and said, “At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish, such as has never occurred since nations first came into existence. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:1-3)
Daniel speaks about two categories of people: those who are prepared for this time and those who aren’t. Which category are we in?