Hoping for Hope

This week’s lectionary includes the story of Hannah, Samuel’s mother. You may remember the somewhat melodramatic story of Samuel – especially God calling him in the middle of the night.  Samuel’s mother has her own story – one of wishing and wanting – hoping for a child of her own.
Many of us can probably relate to Hannah’s difficulty with infertility. Statistics say that as many as 6.7 million couples or 11% of the reproductive population in the US struggle with infertility. Facing this challenge situation can bring a myriad of emotions. Deep struggles in our lives also bring seasons of doubt and distance from God and faith in general. Hearing stories of the people of God who also struggled to hope for their lives to be something different – these stories help provide us with hope.
We often think of a baby as a promise of hope – hope for the future. Whatever deep struggles you or your loved ones may be facing during this season of life – may Hannah’s story help you have faith and perseverance. Unfortunately it isn’t so easy as having faith and then receiving what we want. Sometimes I have to remind myself that God isn’t a vending machine I can put prayers into and get out what I want.
We can find some peace in knowing that in the chaos and pain of this world, God loves us. God walks with us – as God was with Hannah.  The people around us sometimes get it, or sometimes they rub salt in our wounds. The church sometimes supports us – or like the priest Eli- sometimes doesn’t understand us. At the end of the day we can always rest in the knowledge that we are not alone.  The Holy Spirit goes with us every where we go.  May that knowledge provide us with hope.
In peace,
Deacon Erin

Jesus, the Advocate

This week at the Chicago Temple we are celebrating Children’s Sabbath. The Children’s Defense Fund puts out great resources for faith communities every year for this event to help churches highlight the justice needs for children in our backyards as well as around the world.
Throughout the last several weeks through the gospel of Mark we have seen Jesus be an advocate for the most vulnerable among us from children to the elderly widow in today’s story. Being an advocate is about public support – and we all know that the power of public support comes from a balance of words and actions. We often hear Jesus referred to as “our advocate” in that Jesus will advocate for us to God. We offer our thanks and praise to Christ for being willing to stand up for us in love and offer us grace. How do we then take our gratitude and follow Christ as disciples, turning our public support – in action and in word to God’s children in our world who need us?
The children’s defense fund has a report on Child Poverty extensively showing the situation, the pain and the hurt for children, families, and our country, as well recommendations. I wonder how you are called to engage, learn, and love children in our faith community, our city, and beyond knowing this:

It is a national moral disgrace that there are 14.7 million poor children and 6.5 million extremely poor children in the United States of America – the world’s largest economy. It is also unnecessary, costly and the greatest threat to our future national, economic and military security.

The 14.7 million poor children in our nation exceeds the populations of 12 U.S. states combined: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming and is greater than the combined populations of the countries of Sweden and Costa Rica. Our nearly 6.5 million extremely poor children (living below half the poverty line) exceeds the combined populations of Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming and is greater than the populations of Denmark or Finland.

The younger children are the poorer they are during their years of greatest brain development. Every other American baby is non-White and 1 in 2 Black babies is poor, 150 years after slavery was legally abolished.

– See more at: http://www.childrensdefense.org/library/PovertyReport/EndingChildPovertyNow.html#sthash.sZpPkDTd.dpuf