Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

    Planning - The Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

    Hannah prays for a child.
    From a 10th century French Psalter. Public Domain.

    Revised Common Lectionary Readings for the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
    See the texts (NRSV), artwork and Revised Common Lectionary Prayers at the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.

    1 Samuel 1:4-20.
    A barren woman named Hannah, whose husband has two wives, prays for a child while the other wife despises her.

    Canticle of response: 1 Samuel 2:1-10.
    Do your best to offer this song today, either read or sung. Perhaps pair it, as well, with "The Song of Mary" (Luke 1:46-55; see UMH 197-200 for musical settings), which is based on it and will appear again in Advent. Or try this hymn version of Hannah's Song based on a familiar tune: "The Song of Hannah." Or use Psalm 113, UMH 834. If singing the Psalm, use Tone 1 in B-flat major with the response.

    Hebrews 10:11-14, (15-18), 19-25.
    Christ's self-offering in obedience to God throughout his life in the face of suffering and death enables us to appear before God without shame. It also emboldens us to offer ourselves as witnesses to God's salvation through love and good deeds now and until the end of the age.

    Mark 13:1-8.
    The disciples express their awe at the size of the renovated temple campus. Jesus declares it will all be destroyed, but that his disciples should live fearlessly and ignore all claimants to messiahship during those days.

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    Worship Notes


    In the Christian calendar, today is the Twenty-Fifth Sunday after Pentecost. "Normal" Advent (Year C) begins December 2. However, if you are following the "Restored Advent" calendar, today is Advent 2. For this and other Advent and Christmastide options, see "Restoring Advent and Christmas 2012/2013."

    On the denominational calendar, today is als Bible Sunday, the kickoff to National Bible Week organized by the National Bible Association. While appropriate recognition of the role of Scripture should be part of worship weekly, and perhaps especially on this day, the Scriptures already set for this day should take precedence in your planning.

    November 22 is Thanksgiving Day.

    November 25 is Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday, as well as United Methodist Student Day, which includes a special offering. While the special offering should be taken, the celebration of this day should be woven into the larger themes of Christ the King Sunday, which takes precedence on this day.

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    Advent Drawing Nigh

    Advent themes are clearly in view across all of today's readings. The age of injustice in which we find ourselves is doomed, and a new age is about to dawn. Even if you are not beginning a more formal celebration of Advent until December 2, strongly consider including Advent hymns in worship today, and in next week's celebration of Christ the King Sunday.

    From the perspective of the writers of all these texts, we live now (as they saw themselves living then) either in the chasm "between times" or in the new reality of God's kingdom come. Yet much of our lives and even some of our teaching as contemporary U.S. Christians seems to assume that the birth pangs Jesus refers to in Mark's gospel have not yet begun.

    How will you help your congregation remember and claim its life in God's kingdom, already drawn near, here and now? How will you help to affirm the "chasms" your people have entered, individually or as a church or a community, as signs and passages of God's kingdom calling and claiming you, not as things to be feared or forgotten? What have you learned, lost, and gained from such "crossings over"? What chasms are you facing now as a congregation or community? How might the word of God in Scripture today both challenge and encourage you "boldly, into the breach"?

    As you think about celebrating this day in your worship planning team, reflect on what in your worship space already signals something of the calling to live into the coming age here and now? If nothing comes to mind, what might you add to symbolize this calling -- starting today and lasting through Advent, whenever you "officially" begin it? Here are several ideas.

    1. Add a purple parament today, especially if you are not yet starting Advent.
    2. For the reading of I Samuel 1, invite everyone to come to one side of the worship space. Then have them cross over to the other side for the reading of singing of Hannah's song, a sign of moving from this age into the age to come.
    3. Consider offering a reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant as Response to the Word today.
    4. Before you begin the Great Thanksgiving, briefly invite people to notice how we pray that the body and blood of Christ we share may be a foretaste of Christ's final victory and his banquet with us in New Creation.

    Hannah: Longing and Rejoicing for the Age to Come

    Hannah's story and song in I Samuel set the stage not simply for a birth, but for a the birth pangs of an age of prophets and kings.

    Though beloved to her husband, Hannah is taunted by his other wife for her barrenness (shades of Leah and Rachel in the Jacob saga). This was the cultural norm. But as we see in so many narratives involving the God of Israel, barrenness is no barrier, but often a pathway to blessing for generations to come. So it was with Sarai and Rachel before her, and so it would be with Hannah in this story. God would hear her cry, open her womb, and bless her to become the mother of Samuel, Israel's final judge, first prophet and maker of kings.

    The way things "usually" go does not determine destiny with this God -- quite the reverse. So Hannah sings of God's reversals, calling us all to join her song in praise of this God. This is the God who breaks the bows of mighty warriors and strengthens the weak. This is the God who makes the rich beg for food while the poor feast. This is the God who gives children to the barren and sorrow to the fruitful. This is the God who makes the poor and oppressed sit in the places of highest power. All this is not extraordinary but normal for this God. This God invites us to join and celebrate the Divine norm today just as Hannah celebrates the promise of the birth of her son.

    Where are things extraordinary by the standards of this age but ordinary by the standards of our God happening where you are? Take time to think, reflect and discuss this in your worship planning team. And see what verses you might add to Hannah's song to celebrate our God with her.

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    Hebrews: A Priestly Covenant … That Makes Us Holy and Bold!

    Our final reading from Hebrews this lectionary cycle consummates the ones before. Christ's finished work is the end of all further sacrifices for sin. By doing the will of God throughout his life and in his death, Christ has become the high priest of a new covenant between God and humanity in which God "breaks the power of cancelled sin and sets the prisoner free," making us worthy to appear before God boldly.

    Such boldness is neither arrogance nor triumphalism. It is the product of God's forgiveness and our growing obedience (10:16-18). It is the energy and confidence that enables us to keep encouraging each other to grow in love and good works in view and proleptic fulfillment of the coming Day of the Lord (verses 19-25). (Proleptic refers to actions now that signal God's future breaking into the present, much as our celebration at the Lord's table now participates in and is enlivened by the heavenly banquet yet to come).

    Discipleship to Jesus does not make us timid or nice, but bold with God and one another. A major purpose of the band, class, and society meetings of early Methodism was to be a place where people could freely and openly "spur on one another to love and good works." Yet so much in both popular and even congregational and denominational culture seems to try to tame the bold, contain it, or rule it out of order.

    How does holy boldness happen amidst the people where you are? How is such boldness received? Is it taken as an offense and corrected or tamed, or as an expected and effective prompting to greater holiness of heart and life? If you have good local examples of the latter, whether in your congregation (perhaps a Covenant Discipleship group), another congregation, or a parachurch organization (such as an Emmaus 4th Day group, a clergy cluster, an AA group or some other kind), go talk to the folks involved and learn the stories of how they have come to live out such boldness with one another. Better yet, invite one or more of these folks to tell their story and invite others to join this way of bold discipleship with them.

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    Mark: Discipleship Everywhere, Even to the End of This Age

    The end of the age is palpable in this week's reading from Mark's gospel. Nothing that seems established will finally stand. Not the temple (verse 2), nor nations (verses 7-8), nor the land (verse 8) nor the sky (verse 8) can be considered stable. Everything is or will be shaken. And the shaking itself, Jesus warns, is just birth pangs (verse 8), and just the beginning of those at that.

    Jesus warns just as clearly that during the onset of these birth pangs, there will be lots of people claiming to be Messiah, to be the deliverer who can lead the way out of the birth pangs back to some sort of stability. All making such offers are false messiahs, he says. They are acting as if the age to come can be resisted and turned back. No, says Jesus. They are an intrinsic part of God's renovation of all things. Resistance turns out to be worse than futile. It is abortive!

    In so describing the inevitability of such shaking on a global scale, Jesus is not calling for passivity, as if these things will happen and there's nothing we should do about it. To the contrary, they are clarion calls to disciples to stay on task, continuing to bring good news to the poor, forgive sinners, heal the sick, cast out demons and raise the dead. Followers of Jesus cannot be passive and silent in the face of any evil, injustice or oppression which God, in baptism, calls us to resist in whatever forms they appear, local or global, interpersonal or ecological. We have work to do.

    We engage this work, accepting the freedom and power Christ gives us (Hebrews), confident in who our God is and what God has been up to from the beginning. Our God made Hannah rejoice, makes us bold, and continues to undo all other powers that harm and destroy in all the earth. We are not the saviors. Jesus alone is Savior and Lord. Because he is Lord, and because he has inaugurated the age to come, we live light on what the world's powers deem solid foundations and "lean heavy" on Jesus, the Rock of our salvation.

    Where are you seeing birth pangs, locally and globally? Who is putting themselves forward as Savior? How are folks modeling or learning what it means to live light on the apparent powers and "lean heavy" on Jesus?

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    Resources in The United Methodist Book of Worship and the Ecumenical Prayer Cycle

    • Greeting: UMBOW, 245 (2 Samuel)
    • Greeting: UMBOW, 456 (Mark)
    • Canticle: United Methodist Hymnal, 199, "Canticle of Mary" ("Magnificat") [1 Samuel]
    • Canticle: United Methodist Hymnal, 734, "Canticle of Hope" (Hebrews, Mark) <
    • Opening Prayer: UMBOW, 252 (2 Samuel)
    • Prayer of Confession: UMBOW, 486 (Mark)
    • Prayer: United Methodist Hymnal, 495, "The Sufficiency of God" (1 Samuel)
    • The Ecumenical Cycle of Prayer: Burkina Faso , Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger
    • Prayer of Thanksgiving (if no Communion): UMBOW, 554 (1 Samuel, Mark)
    • Great Thanksgiving: UMBOW, 70-71 or 54-55 (1 Samuel, Mark)
    • Blessing: UMBOW, 561 (1 Samuel)
    • The Song of Hannah
      My heart rejoices in you, Lord.
      My God has made me strong.
      My mouth now sings your victory
      O'er those despising me long.

      No Rock, no Holy One like you
      No judge, nor wiser one:
      The proud now have no words to say
      That you have not undone.

      You've broken mighty warriors' bows,
      And clad the weak with power.
      The rich go wandering for food,
      The poor all feast this hour.

      The Lord brings life where none was found
      And closes opened wombs;
      Our God has rescued us from death
      And freed us from our tombs.

      The Lord brings riches to the poor,
      And lifts them from the dust;
      He makes them sit in princes' seat
      And honors them with trust.

      The Lord, the Maker of all things,
      Will guard the faithful one;
      God's thunders scatter wicked schemes.
      God's justice shall be done.

      Words: Taylor Burton-Edwards, based on I Samuel 2:1-10, in Common Meter (
      Suggested Tune: MORNING SONG (UMH 198)
      Please see "The Song of Hannah." in Sibelius and pdf formats.

      Words Copyright © 2006, Discipleship Ministries.
      This text may be reproduced for congregational use or educational settings provided the following notice is included.
      "Copyright © 2006, Discipleship Ministries. Used by permission.

    Call to Worship

    Come, let us gather in the name of the Son of God, the son of David.
    He rules over people justly,
    ruling in the fear of God.
    Jesus Christ is like the light of morning,
    like the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
    gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.
    — Adapted from 1 Samuel 23:3-4.

    There are several segments in the Hebrews reading that might be adapted and used in the service:

    "My Christian friends,
    since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus,
    by the new and living way that he opened for us
    through the curtain (that is, through his flesh),
    and since we have a great priest over the house of God,
    let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith,
    with our hearts sprinkled clean
    from an evil conscience
    and our bodies washed with pure water." (Hebrews 10:19-22)

    If using the Apostles' Creed or some other, the presider might call the congregation to confession using these words:

    Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. Let us join together in declaring our shared faith and hope, using The Apostles' Creed (or some other affirmation of the Christian faith).

    The dismissal of the people prior to the blessing might include the words of Hebrews 10:24-25:

    Deacon or assisting minister:
    Consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds,
    meet together to encourage one another
    as you see the Day approaching.

    May the love of God, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit bless and keep you, now and always.


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    Notes for 1 Samuel 1:4-20
    • Samuel's mother Hannah was one of Elkanah's two wives. There was rivalry between Hannah and Peninnah, Elkanah's other wife, because Hannah was barren. In some countries, polygamy is still a complicated issue in the church because of the many examples found in Old Testament writings.

    • When the family went to offer sacrifices at Shiloh, where the tabernacle was located, Hannah went to petition the Lord for a son. She made a vow that her son would be dedicated to the Lord as a Nazarite. When the family returned to their residence in Ramah, the Lord answered Hannah's prayers, and she conceived Samuel.

    • Hannah is not the first barren woman that we encounter in Scripture; her story is very similar to Sarah's, Rachel's, or Elizabeth's. We have been conditioned by Scripture to expect something extraordinary from a child born to a woman who was once barren.

    • Visit for a wealth of additional online resources. These are offered free of charge.

    • Visit Chris Haslam's (Anglican Church of Canada) weekly exegetical commentary on both Testaments.

    • Estudios Exegético: Homiléticos -- Spanish-language Revised Common Lectionary resources from Instituto Universitario ISEDET in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (For missing weeks, please check for previous posts in the archives at

    Sermon Notes for 1 Samuel 1:4-20

    Another One of God's Surprises.

    Hannah and Rachel. The familiar story of Samuel's birth is "pregnant" with parallels to other Old Testament personalities, like Jacob's second wife, Rachel. The desire to have a child drove both these women to behavior considered obsessive by their communities. What drove these two women to such extremes?

    If we rush to explain away their behavior in theological terms, reminding our congregation of God's larger plan for humanity through their progeny, we risk losing the human element of this story. Perhaps Hannah and Rachel, like many of us, were driven by a need to feel productive. This raises a deeper question: "How do we measure productivity and evaluate effectiveness?" The fact that Christianity, clan, and culture do not agree about what makes a person productive complicates the answer.

    Hannah and Eli. Eli the priest had grown so spiritually dull that he could not tell the difference between prayer and drunkenness. His sons had an awful reputation in the land (1 Samuel 2). By contrast, Hannah was an honorable, but barren woman. She prayed for a son, only to promise to give him to the Lord's service as a Nazirite once he was weaned. Eli, the High Priest, was considered the spiritual leader of Israel; while Hannah, according to the customs of the region, was "just a woman." With whom did God entrust the future of the nation of Israel?

    Online Resources for 1 Samuel 1:4-20

    Print Resources for 1 Samuel 1:4-20

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    Scripture Notes for Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25

    For the preacher, this passage from Hebrews is either an affirmation of traditional Christian theology or a theological minefield. Traditional Christian theology sees in this passage a classic explanation of the death and resurrection of Christ. Christ, the penultimate High Priest, offered for all time a single sacrifice for sin -- one that never need be offered again. Through this sacrifice, we have received forgiveness of sins. Now, Christ is raised and is seated in a position of authority in the heavenlies -- waiting for a time when the enemies of God will be made powerless. The writer used imagery familiar to those who understood temple worship:

    • Sanctuary -- meaning the holy of holies
    • Curtain -- meaning the veil that prevented human eyes from inadvertently looking into that holiest of spaces
    • Sprinkled -- calling to mind holy water and hyssop
    • Sacrifice -- to atone for sin

    It was clear that the writer wanted the reader to connect the death of Christ with the known rituals of temple worship and to understand that there would be no further need for these rituals because the work of Christ had replaced them.

    What about the minefield? The writer of Hebrews wrote about things that were familiar to his (or her) readers. Hebrew people would certainly have known something about the basics of Temple and sacrifice. But, here we are -- historically distanced from the Christ-event, having no experience with Temple worship or its sacrifices. It is most difficult for some to find meaning in blood, atonement, or sacrifice; some see them as cruel ways to think about God; others see them as graphic examples of the depravity of humankind. We are not the first to wrestle with how we conceptualize the work of Christ. Our online resources point to struggles as early as the eleventh century. And I would venture that some members of your congregation also have difficulty conceptualizing what Christ has done for us all. So, dust off your theology books and prepare to help your congregation understand the work of Christ, both as the early church understood it and in practical unmistakable terms that they can understand.

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    Sermon Notes for Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25

    In the Name of Jesus Christ You Are Forgiven. Do you squirm inside when you say the words of assurance: In the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven? When I first spoke those words, I found them uncomfortable -- until I thought about them. The first time I said them, I wondered if I might be speaking presumptuously -- as though I knew all about forgiveness and could say who was forgiven and who was not. However, giving the phrase more thought -- in the name of Jesus Christ you are forgiven -- I began to realize that these are appropriate words to comfort and assure the faithful. God has indeed done everything necessary for our salvation. Because of the work of God on our behalf, through Christ -- in the name of Jesus Christ, we are able to experience forgiveness of sin and peace with God. From God's side of the Covenant, salvation is not a work in process; salvation is a work completed. Anything in process, anything remaining to be done is on our side. When we respond to the invitation to approach God in faith and to receive the forgiveness that comes from God, we do so believing that God really does forgive us!

    In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven. Yes, do presume to know something about forgiveness and speak confidently to the community of the baptized about faith and assurance! Amen.

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    Online Resources for Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25

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    Print Resources for Hebrews 10:11-14 (15-18) 19-25

    Interpretation Bible Commentary -- Hebrews
    (This commentary was written by Thomas G. Long.)

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    Scripture Notes for Mark 13:1-8

    • Mark 13:1-2, is a reference to the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus predicted that the enormous stones of that massive structure would be brought down. This happened in 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed. (This was Herod's Temple.)

    • The discussion found in Mark 13:3-8 takes place on the Mount of Olives and is considered an apocalyptic discourse. In this conversation with Peter, James, John, and Andrew, Jesus predicts some of the things that will take place at the beginning of the end of the age.

    • When dealing with apocalyptic or eschatological literature, it is important that we stress the ambiguity found in Scripture. We have no way of knowing what will happen to signal the absolute end. Jesus gave veiled answers and spoke in generalities that could readily be applied to many periods of human history. None of us know when this age will end; we are charged to watch and pray (Mark 13:33). Note: this post is being written, and this text will be used before December 21, 2012 -- the last predicted day of apocalypse. One resource for addressing the latest doomsday prediction may be found at NASA "2012: Beginning of the End or Why the World Won't End?"

    • Visit for a wealth of additional online resources for this text. These are offered free of charge.

    • Visit for Richard Donovan's weekly exegesis of the New Testament lections in English, Spanish, and Chinese.

    • -- Biblical Storytelling for the Global Village
      What better way to enliven your preaching than to begin by storytelling the text! The site offers several online workshops in storytelling and has a section organized by lectionary year with both audio examples and commentary on the lectionary texts. See this week's texts at

    • Visit Chris Haslam's (Anglican Church of Canada) weekly exegetical commentary on both Testaments.

    • Estudios Exegético: Homiléticos -- Spanish-language Revised Common Lectionary resources from Instituto Universitario ISEDET in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Argentina (For missing weeks, please check for previous posts in the archives at

    • The Painted Prayerbook -- Offering a unique combination of her original artwork and writing, Jan Richardson's blog includes reflections on the lectionary readings.

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    Sermon Notes for Mark 13:1-8

    The End of What? Eschatological and apocalyptic readings are many preachers' worst nightmare. Who wants to preach about the end of time -- especially in an age when so many crackpots have misused Scripture? Yet we are informed by the text that a change is coming. Our attitude toward that change will have a great deal to do with the tone of any sermon we preach about last things. If you choose to preach from this passage, will you stress a time of fear and dread or a time of great hope?

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    Online Resources for Mark 13:1-8

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    Print Resources for Mark 13:1-8

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    BOW- The United Methodist Book of Worship
    CLUW- Come, Let Us Worship (Korean)
    MVPC- Mil Voces Para Celebrar (Spanish)
    SOZ- Songs of Zion
    TFWS- The Faith We Sing
    UMH- The United Methodist Hymnal
    URW- Upper Room Worshipbook
    WSM - Worship & Song, Music Edition
    WSW - Worship & Song, Worship Resources Edition

    Categories: Worship, Lectionary Planning Archive, Year B

    1 Samuel 1:4-20
    A Mother Lined a Basket 2189
    Child of Blessing, Child of Promise 611 232
    Come, Ye Disconsolate, Where'er Ye Languish 510
    Give to the Winds Thy Fears 129 282
    Go Now in Peace 665 363
    I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath 60 123
    If the World from You Withhold 522
    Kum Ba Yah, My Lord 494 332 139
    Leave It There 522 23
    My Soul Gives Glory to My God 198
    Not So in Haste, My Heart 455
    O God, Our Help in Ages Past
    117 200
    Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me 361 247
    Sweet Hour of Prayer 496 248 330
    Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the Lord! 200
    The Care the Eagle Gives Her Young 118 302 199
    The Family Prayer Song 2188
    The Lord Bless and Keep You 2280
    When Our Confidence Is Shaken 505
    1 Samuel 2:1-10 (or Psalm 113, UMH 834)
    A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
    110 25 271
    Blest Are They 2155 163
    Give Thanks 247 2036
    I'll Praise My Maker While I've Breath 60 123
    My Soul Gives Glory to My God 198
    O Worship the King, All-Glorious Above 73
    Praise to the Lord 2029 309
    Praise to the Lord, the Almighty 139 29 68 63
    Something Beautiful, Something Good 394 303
    Tell Out, My Soul, the Greatness of the Lord! 200