Summary: A sermon based on I Sam 2:18-20, 26 and Lk 2:41-52.
Sermon for I Christmas Year C, 28/12/2003
Based on I Sam 2:18-20, 26 & Lk 2:41-52
By Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson, pastor of Grace Lutheran
Church & chaplain of the Good Samaritan Society’s
South Ridge Village, Medicine Hat, Alberta
A Rabbi and a Priest were sitting together on a train, and the Rabbi leans over and asks, “So, how high can you go in your organization?”
The Priest says, “If I am lucky, I guess I could become a Bishop.”
“But, could you get any higher than that?” asks the Rabbi.
“I suppose that if my works are seen in a very good light that I might be made an Archbishop,” said the Priest a bit cautiously.
“Is there any way that you might go higher than that?”
“Now, if all the Saints should smile, I guess I could be made a Cardinal,” said the Priest.
“Could you be anything higher than a Cardinal?” probed the Rabbi.
Hesitating just a little bit, the Priest said “I suppose that I could be elected Pope, but the odds there…”
So the Rabbi interjects, “And could you be anything higher than that? What is there higher than the Pope?”
“What!!! I should be the Messiah himself?!!!”
The Rabbi leaned back, smiled, and said, “Well you know, one of our boys made it!” 1
This story reminds me of the stories of two young boys and their families in our first lesson and gospel today. Like the story of the Rabbi and Priest, it seems that, from a Christian point of view, the story of Samuel and his family is sort of a foreshadowing of the story of Jesus and his family. As I read both stories and reflected on them, it struck me how many parallels there are in them. Let’s take a closer look.
First of all, there is the interesting and tense dynamic between Elkanah and Hannah and Joseph and Mary before their sons were born. In the case of Hannah, she feels like an outcast in her home and community; and that the LORD has not blessed her because she is barren. Her rival, Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, constantly puts Hannah down because of her infertility. In the case of Mary, there is a parallel in that she finds herself pregnant before she is officially married to Joseph—hence, there is again the danger of her being regarded as an outcast in her home and community and a sinner among “religious folk.” Yet, in both cases, God acts in a miraculous way. In the case of Hannah, God opens her womb and she is able to give birth to her firstborn son, naming him Samuel, and giving him to the LORD to be Israel’s last judge and an important priest and prophet. In the case of Mary, God works through conceiving Jesus vis-à-vis the Holy Spirit, and he is named Jeshua, the English Jesus, and meaning, “God is salvation.” Both men, Elkanah and Joseph seem to be caught in a dilemma, which tests their personal integrity. In the case of Elkanah, he is given the formidable task of pleasing two wives in a just and loving manner. He seeks to reassure Hannah of his love for her while struggling with her infertility. In the case of Joseph, he is face with the decision of whether or not to remain with Mary as her husband in spite of what the neighbours and some “religious folk” might think regarding the legitimacy or illegitimacy of Jesus’ birth. Both Elkanah and Joseph prove to be faithful and caring towards their wives. In these marriage relationships, surely we too can be encouraged and inspired to be faithful and caring in our marital relationships too. Such faithfulness and caring hopefully will be used by God to be an inspiration and a testimony of the holiness of the marital bond to others too. Society and the Church need examples of marital faithfulness and caring to counteract the immorality promoted by the mass media today—contrary to popular belief, adultery and fornication are not virtues but are sins against God and one another. May our God help us to continue to be faithful and caring husbands and wives.