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The Songs of Two Women

This week while preparing to preach from 1 Samuel, I was reminded again of Hannah's Song from 1 Samuel 2: 1-10. Hannah is Samuel's mother, and she rejoices when Samuel is born, by singing of the ways that God celebrates those that the world often ignores. She speaks to the ways that what God values is not the same was what the world values. Much of Hannah's song is echoed hundreds of years later by Mary, in her Magnificat. The song that Mary sings in Luke 1: 46-55. Mary rejoices that Jesus is coming to bring God's order to the world. Both women sing with deep trust in God's power and God's constant work for the good of all of God's children.

Hannah's Song

Hannah prayed and said, “My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory. 2“There is no Holy One like the Lord, no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God. 3Talk no more so very proudly, let not arrogance come from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed. 4The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. 5Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry are fat with spoil. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn. 6The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up. 7The Lord makes poor and makes rich; he brings low, he also exalts. 8He raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s, and on them he has set the world. 9“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness; for not by might does one prevail. 10The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered; the Most High will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king, and exalt the power of his anointed.”

1 Samuel 2: 1-10 (NRSV)

Mary's Song

46And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 

Luke 1: 46-55 (NRSV)

I find comfort in the songs of Hannah and Mary. They are reminders from women who had little power or authority in their times. Yet, they both understood that God stands with those who work for justice and equity. God is not with those who have riches and thrones, great platforms from which to speak and influence, but with those who are working to ensure that all are feed and that the lowly are lifted up.

Reading these songs this week caused me to wonder where such songs are being sung today. Who are the ones in our time, like Hannah and Mary, who understand what God is doing and can see God's power at work? How can we listen for the ones who understand what it means to fill the bellies of the hungry with good things and exalt in the lowly? It is likely, that like Hannah and Mary, those who are speaking God's truth now are probably not the ones who also have a powerful platform from which to speak. But, I have faith that there are many voices singing these same songs today.

Pastor Kathleen

Photo: LePlae, Charles. Two Women, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54235 [retrieved January 15, 2021]. Original source: jikimajoja, Flickr Creative Commons.

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