How we got here 012011
This blog comes to you from the people at
Peace Mennonite Church of Columbia, MO
www.peacemennonitechurch.net (under construction)
Meditation and thoughts follow the scripture.
1 Samuel 1:1-20
Triumphant Song of Confidence
1 The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold* of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me
to devour my flesh—
my adversaries and foes—
they shall stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war rise up against me,
yet I will be confident.
4 One thing I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord,
and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter
in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will set me high on a rock.
6 Now my head is lifted up
above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent
sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.
1 Samuel 1:1-20
Samuel’s Birth and Dedication
1There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite* from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2He had two wives; the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
3 Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord. 4On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; 5but to Hannah he gave a double portion,* because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7So it went on year after year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8Her husband Elkanah said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?’
9 After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord.* Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. 11She 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.’
12 As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14So Eli said to her, ‘How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.’ 15But Hannah answered, ‘No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.’ 17Then Eli answered, ‘Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.’ 18And she said, ‘Let your servant find favour in your sight.’ Then the woman went to her quarters,* ate and drank with her husband,* and her countenance was sad no longer.*
19 They rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked him of the Lord.’
Paul’s Vindication of His Apostleship
11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters,* that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. 14I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. 15But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 16to reveal his Son to me,* so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 17nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.
18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him for fifteen days; 19but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. 20In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! 21Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23they only heard it said, ‘The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.’ 24And they glorified God because of me.
The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
How we got here 012011
Spiritual formation, which is a primary goal of our church, requires that we also know how we got to the (spiritual) place we find ourselves in. For most people, examining their spiritual heritage or history, it seems a little magical or blessed or amazing when they look at their own growth. Often people see themselves as having ‘walked with God’ or feel as if they had been watched over by God or Jesus or an angel. Even modernists and post-modernists suspend their disbelief when they feel the presence of something or someone guiding them to their current spiritual state.
Spiritual formation also benefits when we as a community each begin to become aware of each other’s spiritual journey. To this end, new churches should (and existing church’s should also!) set time aside for each of us to interview each other. Some churches, and other small group allot 20 minutes for each member to listen to the story of another. This is one-on-one time, where one person shares their spiritual history with another person and isn’t a public presentation. It is a quiet conversation between two Christians.
It has been recommended that the pastor spend time with each church attendee learning the spiritual history and goals of each person. What are people looking for spiritually? In a church? What is each’s spiritual background, and what influences them from their family and prior life history? This interview should be a start to any new church attendee’s time with our church. It welcomes new people, and knowing them well brings them into the church community.
Our scriptures today are about three such journeys: the celebration of David at coming to the tent of the Lord, the birth of Samuel as one promised before birth to God, and the story of Paul who turned 180 degrees around to become an apostle of Jesus.
What is your spiritual journey, your spiritual history? We’d like to know!