A Mother in Israel: Hannah, Samuel and Eli - In memory of Agnes Nichols on 1862.
 Wailes, William, 1808-1881

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Title:A Mother in Israel: Hannah, Samuel and Eli - In memory of Agnes Nichols on 1862

The story of Hannah presented in this week’s lectionary text is filled with the glory of God, yet is profoundly saturated with shame and disappointment. Hannah suffers from severe disappointment at her inability to bear a child; the text states she “wept bitterly” (1 Samuel 1:10a). The narrative takes her pain and places it in her personal failure and then draws it out in a communal context. She is reminded and ridiculed for her infertility by her rival. 1 Samuel 1:7 states, “So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the LORD, she [her rival] used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat.” Hannah’s identity was completely engulfed by the bearing of a child.

The story does not end in sorrow, however. Hannah makes a leap of faith -- she petitions God. And what Hannah asks for -- what she desires most, she receives from God -- a male child. When examining the stained glass window selected for today's reading, the beauty of the glass communicates the glory of God’s magnificent promise, the child who will become Samuel. Looking more closely, it at first seems peculiar that the face of Hannah is placid. But her face portrays the quiet acquiescence to the faith contract made with God. Her joy in bearing the child Samuel comes with the full awareness of her promise to yield him God's service. The stained glass representation of this story helps unveil a powerful insight. In the act of asking God for what we want most in life—for what we equate with our identity—we are offering ourselves for the glory of God. When we make petition, we are relinquishing ourselves to God's will, allowing our identity to be composed as God determines it.

Artist:Wailes, William, 1808-1881
Building:Church of St. Mary the Virgin
Object/Function:Stained glass
Country:United Kingdom

Scripture:Samuel I, 1:4-20
Person as Subject:Hannah (Biblical figure)
Samuel (Biblical figure)
Eli (Biblical figure)
Lectionary links:BProp28
General Subject:Motherhood

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Attribution:Wailes, William, 1808-1881. A Mother in Israel: Hannah, Samuel and Eli - In memory of Agnes Nichols on 1862, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. https://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=54184 [retrieved June 6, 2023]. Original source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/76236133@N00/6676222261.
Record Number:54184 Last Updated: 2022-07-18 14:53:23 Record Created: 2009-01-16 11:46:22
Institution:Vanderbilt University Unit: Collection: Art in the Christian Tradition