22nd Dec

1 Samuel 1:24-28

I don’t think I could imagine a more poignant scene if I tried than that of Hannah leaving her child Samuel in the Temple at Shiloh. Everything about the story raises a huge question. Hannah had longed for a child and saw the birth of Samuel as the greatest blessing. And yet, she had made a vow that he would be given over to the Lord.

Perhaps we need to take a step back from the poignant details and see this episode as part of God’s overarching plan. By growing up in Shiloh Samuel is shown to have been trained from a very young age to listen to God’s word and to act open it. It is Samuel who will anoint David as King, and from David’s line the Messiah will be born. 

We can trace a thread through the stories of the Old Testament of people who were faithful to God against all odds. Each small choice and each big ‘Yes’ paves the way for the fulfilment of God’s promise. Maria Boulding, in her book, The Coming of God, expresses this beautifully:

‘The chosen people were created to be a centre of attunement, receptivity and expectation, a place of felt need and desire. They were to listen to God’s word, to long for him, and to be the womb-community which would bring forth the One who was to come.’

And still today, God longs for our whole-hearted participation in the promise of salvation. We are still called to be that place of longing for our communities, for our country, for the world.   

Read through the passage a few times during the day. How is God speaking to you through this story?