Presence of Christ

Session 7.53

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Today, we are looking at the story of Samuel, son of Hannah and Elkanah, as he is serving in the temple. Samuel, the young child, is being set up as one who would be different from Eli’s sons who would have taken over in the temple for him.

Scripture: 1 Samuel 2:18-26

Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod. His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord’; and then they would return to their home.

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Nikki’s Notes

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Presence of Christ

When looking at the focal passage for today, the important thing is to really be aware of all the context surrounding the story. Scripture works hard to let us know that at this point, the people of Israel were in a bad way. They were not being who God called them to be and in many ways they had lost their ways. This comes into narrow focus when we learn of the way that Eli’s sons behave. They were to begin serving in the temple after Eli, but they were not fit to do so because of their corruption.

And so, we are reminded of the young boy, Samuel, whose mother devoted him to the temple. He lived there from the time he was weaned. And he grew to be one of the greatest leaders of Israel in spite of the fact that he lived in the temple amongst the corruption. We are told that he was serving the Lord.

As we continue through this Christmas season, I cannot help but find hope in this story. Samuel was able to grow in stature and in favor with God. He was able to be rise above the corruption and trouble that surrounded him.

I wonder if we are able to do that. I wonder if we are able to rise above all of the trouble that happens around us. We all have things we face as people and it often seems like those things can feel more challenging this time of year. There are events in our own lives that are a struggle. We have friends facing all manner of difficult situations. We simply turn on the evening news and we hear about corruption, pain, and frightening events.

In this season of Advent, we can be like Samuel. We can serve the Lord and we can rise above the challenges that exist around us. As we serve God, we will experience the presence of Christ in our lives and that presence will fill us with the love, hope, joy, and peace of the season.

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Nikki’s Video Script

Presence of Christ

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and that you were, able to experience Christmas in a way that was meaningful to you. Today, we are looking at the story of Samuel, son of Hannah and Elkanah, as he is serving in the temple. A few weeks ago, we looked at the story of Hannah as she longs for and prays for a child. Today, we will look at a continuation of that story as we look at 1 Samuel 2:18-26.

What we know is that Hannah was barren, unable to have children. She prayed hard for a child every year and eventually got around to bargaining as we all have from time to time. She prayed, if you give me a son, I will devote him to you, God. And so this is how Samuel ended up serving in the temple of the Lord. In our text today we learn that each year, his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him when she and Elkanah came to make the yearly sacrifice. Can you imagine the care she took with that garment each year? It was the one thing she could do each year to mother this son for which she so desperately longed.

As I read through the rest of the text, I found myself wondering if Hannah knew the kind of drama that was happening in the temple with Eli’s sons. They clearly were not shaping up to serve the temple well. Their character was questionable. And it is clear that others disapproved of their actions because the people were reporting them to their father. I think that if I had been Hannah and knew about these things, I would have had a difficult time leaving him.

Contextually, it helps us to recall that a time of transition is beginning to happen in the life of Israel. The Israelites have been living in a kind of tribal confederacy. In this confederacy they had judges to guide them and settle disputes, but they mainly governed themselves by upholding the Law. However, as we read through the book of judges, we also know this time was fraught with turmoil and uncertainty. Our text today continues that theme as it highlights how Eli’s sons who would have taken over in the temple for him were behaving. Samuel, the young child, is being set up as one who would be different.

And Samuel was different — Samuel, by all measures was a great leader. He listened go God, he was discerning, and he cared for the people and for the kings he would eventually help. Here in today’s text we are reminded that at some point in their lives, all leaders were children. And this child, we are told grew both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.

We live in time that is also fraught with turmoil and uncertainty. Anytime you turn on the news there are reports of shootings, terror attacks, politicians saying ridiculous things to get a vote — there are stories of poverty in our communities and abroad, stories of people and companies who get ahead by exploiting others, stories of pain and misfortune.

I have heard people wonder why any of us would imagine bringing children into a world like this. I think today’s text gives us hope. Samuel was able to grow into a wonderful person who was a change agent in his own community. And he was shaped into this person in the midst of drama and undesirable circumstances.

Whether we have children or not, there is a responsibility in all of us to care for the next generation of leaders so they will grow into strong and kind leaders. Samuel’s parents loved him and likely Eli cared for him in very important ways. The world around us may be filled with all kinds of negative things, but it is possible for us to choose to be a positive, Christ-like presence, in the life of someone who needs it.

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