Thursday after Trinity 13 (Hannah)

Psalmody
1I give you thanks, O LORD, with | my whole heart;*
         before the gods I | sing your praise;

2I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your | faithfulness,*
         for you have exalted above all things your name | and your word.

3On the day I called, you | answered me;*
         my strength of soul | you increased.

4All the kings of the earth shall give you thanks, | O LORD,*
         for they have heard the words | of your mouth,

5and they shall sing of the ways | of the LORD,*
         for great is the glory | of the LORD.

6For though the LORD is high, he regards the | lowly,*
         but the haughty he knows | from afar.

7Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you pre- | serve my life;*
         you stretch out your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and your right hand de- | livers me.

8The LORD will fulfill his pur- | pose for me;*
         your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work | of your hands.
               —Psalm 138

Additional Psalm: Psalm 135

Old Testament Reading:
1 Kings 18:20–40
The Prophets of Baal Defeated
20So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. 21And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word. 22Then Elijah said to the people, “I, even I only, am left a prophet of the LORD, but Baal’s prophets are 450 men. 23Let two bulls be given to us, and let them choose one bull for themselves and cut it in pieces and lay it on the wood, but put no fire to it. And I will prepare the other bull and lay it on the wood and put no fire to it. 24And you call upon the name of your god, and I will call upon the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, he is God.” And all the people answered, “It is well spoken.” 25Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” 26And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made. 27And at noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud, for he is a god. Either he is musing, or he is relieving himself, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 28And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. 29And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.

30Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come near to me.” And all the people came near to him. And he repaired the altar of the LORD that had been thrown down. 31Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD came, saying, “Israel shall be your name,” 32and with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD. And he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two seahs of seed. 33And he put the wood in order and cut the bull in pieces and laid it on the wood. And he said, “Fill four jars with water and pour it on the burnt offering and on the wood.” 34And he said, “Do it a second time.” And they did it a second time. And he said, “Do it a third time.” And they did it a third time. 35And the water ran around the altar and filled the trench also with water.

36And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” 38Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench. 39And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces and said, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” 40And Elijah said to them, “Seize the prophets of Baal; let not one of them escape.” And they seized them. And Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon and slaughtered them there.

New Testament Reading:
Ephesians 2:1–22
By Grace Through Faith
1And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—3among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—6and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. 8For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

One in Christ
11Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands—12remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.

Writing
“For it is written: Rejoice, O barren one that dost not bear; break forth and shout, thou who art not in travail; for the desolate hath more children than she who hath a husband.” (Gal. 4:27)

Paul quotes this passage, which is completely allegorical, from the prophet Isaiah. It is written, he says, that the mother of many children, who has a husband, must grow sick and perish, while the barren one, who does not bear, must have very many children. Hannah sings the same way in her canticle, from which Isaiah took this prophecy (1 Sam. 2:4–5): “The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble gird on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn.” It is an amazing thing, she says: the one who was prolific will be barren, and the one who was barren will be prolific. Those who were mighty, satisfied, alive, righteous, blessed, rich, and glorious will be feeble, hungry, sentenced to death, sinful, condemned, poor, and shameful; and, on the other hand, the feeble and the hungry will be mighty and satisfied.

With this allegory from the prophet Isaiah, Paul shows the difference between Hagar and Sarah, that is, between the syna-gog and the church, or between the Law and the Gospel… [I]f they follow the Law and perform its outward works, they think they are righteous. All such men are slaves, not free men, because they are sons of Hagar, who gives birth into slavery. If they are slaves, they do not share in the inheritance but are cast out of the house. “The slaves do not con-tinue in the house forever” (John 8:35); in fact, they have now been thrown out of the kingdom of grace and freedom. “He who does not believe is condemned already” (John 3:18). Therefore they remain under the curse of the Law, under sin, death, and the power of the devil, under the wrath and judgment of God.
               —Martin Luther

Hymnody
By grace God’s Son, our only Savior,
         Came down to earth to bear our sin.
Was it because of your own merit
         That Jesus died your soul to win?
No, it was grace, and grace alone,
That brought Him from His heav’nly throne.
               —By Grace I’m Saved (LSB 566:3)

Prayer of the Day
God the Father Almighty, maker of all things, You looked on the affliction of Your barren servant Hannah and did not forget her but answered her prayers with the gift of a son. So hear our supplications and petitions and fill our emptiness, granting us trust in Your provision, so that we, like Hannah, might render unto You all thankfulness and praise, and delight in the miraculous birth of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (1084)

Hannah
Hannah was the favored wife of Elkanah, the Ephraimite, and the devout mother of the prophet Samuel. He was born to her after years of bitter barrenness (1 Samuel 1:6–8) and fervent prayers for a son (1 Samuel 1:9–18). After she weaned her son, Hannah expressed her gratitude by returning him for service in the house of the Lord at Shiloh (1 Samuel 1:24–28). Her prayer (psalm) of thanksgiving (1 Samuel 2:1–10) begins with the words “My heart exults in LORD; my strength is exalted in the LORD.” This song foreshadows the Magnificat, the Song of Mary centuries later (Luke 1:46–55). The name Hannah derives from the Hebrew word for “grace.” She is remembered and honored for joyfully having kept the vow she made before her son’s birth and offering him for lifelong service to God.

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession V (III) 223–234 [344–355]

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.