A Mother’s Gift
Sunday, October 18

Pastor Mark Aune

1 Samuel 1:9-11, 19-20, 2:1-10

Dear friends in Christ, grace and peace. Amen.

One of my favorite definitions of Christian stewardship is this; stewardship is “everything I do after I say, I believe.”

I understand this to mean that every aspect of my life,

  • the daily decisions I make,
  • the choices that affect me and others,
  • what my bank account looks like,
  • what an accountant would say if she or he saw my tax returns,
  • do I obey the law,
  • how do I treat my neighbor,
  • what kind of a husband and father am I,
  • do I honor my father and mother;
  • the list is endless, and I could go on and on.

I hope you get the idea. Christian stewardship is how we put our faith into practice and into action. It is literally where faith meets life, in the daily and ordinary stuff of life.

I sometimes wonder if part of the issue is that we don’t have a big enough definition of stewardship. We think we can’t do it, or we think resources are too scarce and we live our lives out of fear.

Basically, what we are saying is that our God isn’t big enough. And if we have a small God, then frankly, that is exactly what we will get.

Our text today, the story of Hannah, is a story of a woman who sees no limit to what God can do for her and without her ever knowing it or realizing it, her act of stewardship creates a ripple whose wave is still rolling centuries later.

We could read the story of Hannah and conclude that she is a broken and a desperate woman.

You wouldn’t be wrong if you came to that conclusion. This is an important part of her story and I would suggest it is even part of her stewardship story. But it isn’t the whole story.

Hannah was broken and desperate because the Lord had closed her womb. We read this in verse 4. Keep in mind there was no awareness of the biology of birth, of fertility and infertility. It was up to God as to whether or not you had children. Hannah’s rival, the other wife of her husband had many children and the other wife often provoked Hannah.

At Shiloh, which is where the place of worship was located, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord.

  • This is a key moment in the story.
  • She presents herself before the Lord.
  • Not just a part of her but her whole self.

This is the first and most critical step in becoming a steward. When we do this – when we give ourselves, our lives, our hearts to God, living a life of generosity is easy. It becomes a natural thing. It is the sign of a believer who understands that everything belongs to God.

Presenting ourselves before the Lord is the first and the hardest step of all. It is hard because we all know too well what our deficiencies are in the eyes of God. We know our brokenness, our selfishness and the secrets of our hearts that we try and hide.

We see all those inadequacies and where we fall short and we think to ourselves, God doesn’t want me. God can’t use me or anything I have to offer. But once we give ourselves to God, the rest becomes easy.

Hannah presents herself to the Lord, and this is how she does it. She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. This is her prayer, – “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite.

If stewardship is what we give to God then Hannah is giving her pain, her heartbreak, her distress, her tears and her deepest hope and longing to the Lord.

If stewardship is everything we do after we say we believe, then part of that doing is giving ourselves to God. Every part of who we are, our distress, our bitter tears, our hopes and dreams.

I love how transparent, honest and real Hannah is in this story. She lays it all on the line with God. We don’t read this part of the story, but she is praying so fervently in the temple that the priest Eli thinks she is drunk and when he realizes what she is doing and why he says to her,  “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.”

God hears her prayer, opens her womb, she conceives and gives birth to Samuel.

Then she does what she said she would do in her prayer. She gives back to God the one thing she desperately wanted in her life, the one thing she prayed for when she presented herself to the Lord. She gives her son Samuel.

A mother’s gift. A faith filled act of stewardship and devotion to God.

I can hardly come up with the right words to adequately describe what she does.

What moved Hannah to make this pledge? The cynic in me thinks she just wanted a son and was so desperate for one she would do anything. But I don’t think this was the case with Hannah.

Her inability to have a child, her barrenness defined her, but it didn’t define her faith. She wouldn’t let it and the sign of this is She ends up giving away the one thing she most wanted.

Hannah presented herself to the Lord and made an amazing commitment. She didn’t know what would happen, but she followed through. She set her intention and she acted with joy as she gave Samuel back to God.

Hannah’s first gift to God was her life. The second gift was her son, Samuel. And the ripple effect of a mother’s gift, of Samuel, is that Samuel becomes the prophet who anoints King David, from whose line of descendants comes the Messiah, Jesus, our Savior.

A mother’s gift, creating a ripple effect that accomplishes our salvation.

When we present ourselves to the Lord, when we give our lives away for the sake of the Kingdom, it opens up for us endless possibilities of how and what we can give.

Gifts that ripple through our communities and effect change, strengthen lives and give hope.

Hannah is a model for stewardship; of what it means to live a faith filled, a faith directed life.

She teaches us that giving in the face of adversity is possible.

She teaches us that giving in the face of uncertainty requires faith.

She teaches us that giving back to God, when the normal and expected structures of our daily life is turned upside down and inside out, has the power to change lives.

This is what Hannah had.

A faith that is brutally honest about fears, hopes and dreams.

A faith that keeps asking God for what you need and when you are given the gift – you turn right around and give it back.

Then, like living stones thrown out into the world, it creates ripples of love and generosity that move from our lives and into the hearts, homes and lives of our neighbor.

Present yourself to the Lord. It is the best gift you can give back to God.


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