First Samuel 1–2 shares the account of Hannah, an extraordinary woman who endured many difficulties in life. We are told she had a caring husband named Elkanah and lived in the hill country of Ephraim. She was one of Elkanah's two wives. Further, Hannah was unable to have children, while Elkanah's other wife had multiple children. In a culture in which having children, especially sons, was viewed as being of utmost importance, Hannah's situation would have been overwhelmingly sad.
Once, when Hannah visited Shiloh, where the tabernacle of the Lord was, she poured out her heart in prayer before the Lord. She asked the Lord for a son, promising that if the Lord answered, she would dedicate her son to serving God all of his life. Eli, the high priest, saw Hannah praying silently and earnestly and thought at first she was drunk. After rebuking her, Eli heard Hannah's explanation and realized she had been praying. He replied, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him" (1 Samuel 1:17). Hannah left, encouraged.
Soon, Hannah gave birth to a son whom she named Samuel. After Samuel was weaned, she took him to Eli and said, "Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD" (1 Samuel 1:26-28).
First Samuel 2 opens with a prayer of worship from Hannah that glorifies God for answering her prayer. Interestingly, Mary, the mother of Jesus, offers a similar prayer in Luke 1:46-55. Hannah left Samuel in Eli's care but was not completely disconnected from Samuel. "And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.' So then they would return to their home" (1 Samuel 2:19-20). The Lord blessed Hannah with more children—five more, to be exact (verse 21).
Lessons we learn from Hannah
Many lessons can be taken from Hannah's story. First, Hannah remained faithful to God even during difficult times. She had to deal with a polygamous husband, a lack of children, and mockery from the other wife, but Hannah never lost her focus on the God who cared for her.
Second, Hannah was a woman of prayer. She took her burdens to the Lord. She prayed for a son and then offered a rich prayer of praise when God answered. Her prayers were her lifeline.
Third, Hannah kept her promise to God even though it was difficult. She had pledged her son to the Lord, and she followed through. When the time came to leave her only son with Eli, she certainly would have had difficulty. But her pain did not lessen her integrity. By God's grace, she was blessed with even more children in the end.
Fourth, Hannah acknowledged God's answers to her requests. When Samuel was born, she gave thanks: "For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him" (1 Samuel 1:27). She did not seek to take credit or explain the results in any other manner. Samuel was a miracle, and Hannah praised God for His answer to her need.
Hannah offers a wonderful role model for all believers, especially for women who have endured times of difficulty in bearing children. Or a difficult partner in the home. Her experience provides an example of faithful prayer and commitment to God that Christians can apply today.
Let us Pray
Father God, may we be ready in season and out of season to share Your word and to pray for others. Let us not be embarrassed or think that it may not be a convenient time. It takes nothing from us to ask”May I pray for you?” when we someone distressed or in need. May we be ready at all times to be used by you. May we bear fruit at all times for you. So that we may increase more and more. May we never hide the talent that you have given us but invest over and over again in the lives of others. We pray you give us boldness and equip us through daily reading of the word, in Jesus Name,
Established by resolution of the Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Natal
Challenge The Diocese of Natal is facing a number of unprecedented challenges, with our finances in particular, under increasing pressure. There may be a number of reasons for this situation, but significant amongst them is the fact that many of our suburban churches find themselves impacted by changing patterns of attendance and a rise in the average age of parishioners. Parishes that were once in a position to generously and sacrificially support Diocesan finances are no longer in a position to do so. Likewise, but for different reasons, many of our rural parishes continue to struggle with financial viability in the face of imperfect infrastructure, often vast distances over which ministry must be conducted, and the limited availability of resources for ministry (human and otherwise).
Question: What challenges are faced in your parish?
Need : These challenges within our denomination, play out against the backdrop of local communities influx. Rapid change in some, slow decay in others. In some communities, still bearing the scars of our nation’s history, change has not come quickly enough. Poverty, deprivation and exclusion remain and the temptation to turn to ever more radical voices for apparent solutions is real. For others, change is proving difficult and has left residents feeling insecure and fearful; the temptation is to move ever further apart, to build bigger and higher walls. And everywhere, symptoms of our hurting nation appear as a plague of crime, corruption, violence, depression, abuse and addiction. Jesus looked at the crowd with compassion. There before him were people with a range of needs, some material and some spiritual, and he brought relief to them as only he could. But he also recognised their primary source of need and vulnerability in describing them as “sheep without a shepherd”. As we look at our communities, the parallels are obvious, with many desperately searching for competent and compassionate leadership and a new hope for the future.
Question: What challenges are faced in your community?
Opportunity : Our challenges as a Diocese come at a moment of great opportunity, a time when the church needs to find its voice for the sake of the communities in which we are rooted. People, both rural and urban, need to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ the Great Shepherd, shared with new vitality and creativity, and to experience the personal transformation that is only found in relationship with him. And of huge importance in our hurting land, people also need to experience the joy and hope that may be found in belonging to the Loving Community of the Church - together with a new sense of purpose and fulfilment as the church works together in unity to meets needs and establish God’s Kingdom and its values in the wider community.
Question: What opportunities exist for your parish?
Solution : God has given our Diocese a vision. Our task is to ensure that the vision is fully resourced and that we are working towards its realisation. Our starting point must be faith-filled listening and obedience, asking for God’s guidance and wisdom as we work to overcome our challenges. But in doing so, we also have an opportunity to ask the difficult questions: to challenge our structures, our attitudes and our spirituality. Leadership will be absolutely key and courageous decisions may need to be made. The goal is not just to make our system of Assessment more fair and efficient, or to balance the books, but to shape a church that will be effective in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Revd Archdeacon Chris Meyer
Is a guild for all baptized and single ladies who desire to fulfil their Christian lives within the Anglican Church. The guild was formally established in remembrance of Saint Agnes, a young girl who was slaughtered for her devotion to Jesus Christ during the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. She was born in Rome (Italy) AC 291 and died in AC 304; St Agnes Day is celebrated on the 21st of January. St Agnes is depicted in art holding a lamb which represents her religious purity; she is also shown with a martyr's palm. The young martyr's life sets an example as to how as young women we should claim power in Christ to define our own identity and not conform to cultures claim to identify us in terms of standards of society. For we must have the courage to believe and trust that we are given the spirit of love, power and self-discipline and as young women we aspire to be like the various virtuous women of the bible and other Saints.
One of the main purposes of the St Agnes Guild in the Anglican Church is to become disciples of Jesus Christ and bring together Christian women to strengthen their faith and trust in God. We consider ourselves as the ‘sisterhood in Christ’, ‘intombi yomusa’ (Sisters of grace) and ‘flowers of the world’; this is truly who we are. Our beauty is not what meets the eye, nor the attractive uniform that we wear or the beauty our face holds, but it is the good deeds we do, the love we share amongst ourselves and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, confirming in the truth of the Word of God and living a righteous life. For James 5: 16 says the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. We too as the Guild have our aims and objectives rooted in prayer, in everything we do; prayer is the jet fuel that flies this plane.
The leadership in our region consists of a full committee which takes the responsibility to plan St Agnes events, and services within the Durban and District region and also in the Diocese of Natal. Our Chaplin is Rev. P Nyoni, who forms part of the Guilds support structure, she has committed herself together with other Clergy in praying for the success of the Guild and the services or events we hold, and offer guidance and great wisdom when we are confronted with challenges in the Guild.
St Agnes Guild objections are:
Public Relations Officer for St Agnes Guild @ St Barnabas Bluff
My name is Barnabas Sibusiso Nqindi, rector of St Barnabas-Bluff. I enjoy a good debate and I love to see people grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ