Next week’s texts are suitably apocalyptic as we approach the climax of the church year. They coincide with a week following the centenary commemorations of the end of the Great War “to end all wars.” Yet there is a global unease as the world retreats into defensive poses in the wake of natural calamity, shifting balances in world power and economic and political angst. An apt metaphor for “Apocalypse” is “drawing back the curtain to see things as they really are.” Our texts hint at this.
We visit the anguish of Hannah, grieving and taunted for her barrenness in a society that measured its wealth and prosperity in creating descendants to ensure tribal viability. It is the soil for the beginning of the story of the birth of Samuel, Israel’s kingmaker and the unfolding narrative of human salvation. Even in the midst of hopeless despair, destiny is awoken.
This could well be Hannah’s prayer. The Psalms provide instances that allow the fullness of expression of human anguish to train through to expressions of trusting hope that speak of guarantee and not merely wishful thinking.
“And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds …” This is the “therefore” of the thorough discussion and comparison of Christ’s “once for all” sacrifice with the perpetual sacrificial rites of the old priestly system. There is a particular way to live even in the midst of what some have called the age of spiritual melancholia – the way of agape love spelled out in mutual acts of care and encouragement.
The little apocalypse – Jesus urges the disciples to keep their focus on the reality of the way of the kingdom against the distractions of the times.