During the Week of Prayer for for Christian Unity (WPCU), the NH Council of Churches will post daily reflections from leaders its the ten member denominations. This year’s theme is “Justice and only justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20).
1 Samuel 1:13-17
When Eli accused Hannah of making a drunken spectacle of herself, she responded, “I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord.” When Jesus tried to dismiss the Canaanite woman by saying it was not right to give the food intended for children to the dogs, she refused to be dismissed and her tenacity changed the direction of Jesus’ ministry toward inclusivity and opened the doors of salvation to all God’s children.
Yet, there are many who continue to pray with the anguish of Hannah and challenge the church with the tenacity of the Canaanite woman, and the core of the prayer and challenge remains: acceptance in the body of Christ. Hannah and the Canaanite woman remind us that while the church has done much to unify institutionally, there is still much work to be done to unite internally so that all of God’s children have a place at the table.
The Church needs to remain engaged in open dialogue and continue to both repent and seek justice for those it has excluded, as well as confronting the structures of our society that are exclusive, while challenging ourselves theologically to respect the dignity with which each child of God has been created. In the end, true unity cannot be found institutionally, but instead when we become the answer to the anguished prayers of brothers, sisters and siblings, and see in the life of the other, the life of Christ.
About the Author
Rev. Peter Boehringer serves Gethsemane Lutheran Church in Manchester. Gethesemane Lutheran Church is one of 14 New Hampshire congregations of the New England synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.