Nov 10

25th Sunday after Pentecost [Ordinary 33B] (Year B)

1 Samuel 1:4-20
  • After considering Ruth for the past 2 weeks, we are introduced to another strong female: Hannah.
  • Hannah is bullied by her “rival”, Peninnah (Elkanah’s other wife).  Bullying is a huge issue these days – so why not talk about it?  Kids and youth (and adults) may relate to the deep distress that Hannah felt due to Peninnah’s relentless taunts.
  • When we meet people who are in distress, do we take them seriously?  Or, do we – like Eli – initially dismiss them?
  • Hannah and Elkanah worship together as wife and husband.  How can/do we worship with our families (besides going to church)?
  • Hannah does not conform to the traditions of her day.  Instead, she prays for herself – not asking the priest (Eli) to pray for her.  Instead of following some prescribed formula (or sacrifice or prayer), Hannah presents herself to the Lord on her own terms.
  • You could use a variety of images of women in prayer as part of your worship display.
1 Samuel 2:1-10
  • After Hannah’s prayer is answered, she prays again – this time, a prayer of thanksgiving and joy.
  • The mighty are brought down, and the lowly are lifted up.  But, Hannah sings more than just that.  In her prayer/song, Hannah also clearly states that God makes both the rich and the poor.  Demonizing the rich (or the poor) is not in keeping with Hannah’s prayer – or, I would suggest, God’s point of view.  God’s vision goes beyond either/or and us/them.
  • How might we be able to join God in bringing a greater justice to earth?  In other words, how might we be able to join God in lifting up the poor and lowly?  How might we make more room at our princely tables?  How might we challenge ourselves to give up our seats of honor so that others may have a place to sit?
  • What would your prayer of thanksgiving be?  Invite the congregation to create their own version of Hannah’s prayer – one that gives thanks for what God has done in their lives.
Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25
  • The repeated prayers and sacrifices offered by the priests in the temple don’t take away sins.  Only Christ – and his sacrifice of self – can do that.
  • If you are focusing on this text, you may want to make the prayer of confession and assurance of pardon the center of the whole worship service.  If you do not normally include these elements in your worship service, this is a great day to introduce them to your congregation.  An easy way to introduce them could be by using a responsive prayer or litany.
  • Invite people to share their personal testimonies of experiencing forgiveness.
  • Create postcards or notecards of encouragement, love, or forgiveness — OR — create invitations to join you at an upcoming worship service.  Challenge the congregation to deliver these notes or invites to others in the community.
Mark 13:1-8
  • The disciples sound a bit like people who are visiting the “big city” for the first time.  Of course, that may have been the case.  Have you ever been  in a city where you have marveled at the architecture?
  • It may seem as though the biggest buildings and grandest of cities will stand forever, but it may not always be so.  All of the material things in the world will, in fact, pass away someday.  Do we find ourselves placing our trust in those things, or do we place our trust in God?
  • What “signs” do we see today?  How do we react?  How do we respond?
  • Let’s face it — like the disciples, we all want details about what is coming in the days / weeks / months / years ahead.  I think it is important to notice that the first thing that Jesus says when the disciples ask about the signs is”Beware that no one leads you astray.”  Are we careful about who we follow?
  • You may want to create a collage of newspaper and magazine headlines to use as part of your worship display.  You could even create the collage during the worship service – it would be a neat activity for youth to create a collage or other piece of art while you preach.
  • There have been so many natural (and human-made) disasters lately.  Take up a special offering to benefit relief efforts.

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