The Rev. Mary Newberg Gale, associate pastor, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway:
How can one choose a single parent-child relationship from the wealth of human experience depicted in the Bible? That is a difficult task.
For me, the relationship between Hannah and Samuel stands out the most. Hannah, one of many women in scripture who struggles with childlessness, faces the shame and ridicule, the sadness and isolation that women around the world feel at this moment. After a long struggle, including prayers and bargainings with God, Hannah receives the very thing her heart longs for — a son. She names him Samuel, which means, “I have asked him of the Lord.” Hannah honors her promises to God, even after knowing what childlessness feels like, by giving Samuel up to God. This task, often forgotten or glossed over, is one of the most difficult in the Bible.
Hannah offers a place for many women to see their own stories played out, mothers or not. She highlights the awesome power and responsibility in motherhood and the mixture of joy and pain that is ever-present. Her story can assure us that we are not alone, that a long line of women surrounds us during our difficulties. Around the world this day there are women struggling with issues of barrenness, facing difficult choices, or waiting for someone to answer their prayers.
Mothers are not just the people who give birth to a child. They are the ones who make incredibly difficult decisions, even agreeing to let children go, in the best interests of the child. They are the ones who open their hearts and arms to become family for children who have none. They are the people who love and care for the children in their classrooms, their after school programs, their churches and their communities. This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate Mothers in all their forms.
— Send e-mail to Mary Newberg Gale at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Paul Taylor, Associate Pastor, Mustard Seed Church, 700 Wakarusa Road:
The story of a Jewish woman named Hannah and her son Samuel is compelling. For years, Hannah had been unable to become pregnant. It tormented her to the point where she couldn’t eat and was beside herself with grief.
She went to the temple to pray and tearfully poured out her deep longing to God. She vowed that if God would give her a son, she would dedicate him to God for lifelong service. The priest on duty was watching her pray and initially misinterpreted her sorrow for drunkenness and scolded her. But after Hannah explained the situation, he blessed her and, sure enough, she gave birth to a boy she named Samuel. Hannah kept Samuel at home until he was fully weaned then delivered Samuel to the priest in keeping with her promise. (1 Samuel 1)
Samuel grew up serving God and went on to become both a mighty prophet and the last judge of the nation of Israel. He played a pivotal role in all the spiritual and political events of that nation. Before his death, he anointed the boy David who would someday be the greatest Old Testament King of Israel.
It all started with a woman who wanted desperately to become a mother. Eventually she realized that the only way this was going to happen was for God to do a miracle in her life. But it didn’t end there. Because she was given the desire of her heart, she demonstrated her gratefulness by giving her son back to God.
Was she a bad mother? I don’t believe so. She simply gave her greatest gift back to the one she loved the most. Our Heavenly Father did the same thing when he gave us his greatest gift, the life of his son Jesus. He simply gave his greatest gift to the ones he loved the most.
— Send e-mail to Paul Taylor at email@example.com.