In the Lectionary

November 14, Ordinary 33B (1 Samuel 1:4–20)

What if we put children at the center of our policies and decisions?

Reflecting on this text and on Hannah’s story, I remember listening to New Testament scholar Amy Lindeman Allen explain what she called a “children’s reading of the text.” She said that children are very rarely the center of biblical text and interpretation. Instead, they are usually just an appendage or afterthought, when they’re mentioned at all. She made the rather audacious claim that in the US context, when we list different marginalized people and groups, we should include children. Children are often left without voices, and, particularly relevant for us, they are seldom considered in sermons, theology, homiletics, lectures, papers, articles, lectionaries, and workshops. What about the children?

What about the children in this post-truth era? Fake news, alternative facts, and conspiratorial views of reality present a daily challenge for adults and our sanity. How much more so for children? How should they know what to believe? What about the children? What about the displays of violence, hate, intolerance, and bigotry that we adults mimic before them? What are the ramifications of adults acting badly and viciously in front of children?

What about the children in a time when anti-immigrant sentiment is on the rise across the globe, from the United States to Italy, to Austria, to Germany, and to more places in the world than I can name? In preparing this reflection, I looked at several lists of the chief challenges facing children worldwide: poverty, life as refugees, violence through indoctrination, lack of access to education, child neglect, child labor, child abuse, rape and molestation, child prostitution, child trafficking and slavery, military use of children, hunger, and climate change, to name a few. What about the children? What if we got busy and active for the children? What do our reflections on this text of 1 Samuel have to do with children?