The scriptures read are 1 Samuel 4-6, Psalm 81 and John 16.
1 Samuel 4. There is this problem with sacred things: people think the power is in them rather than their sacredness comes from God. They become magical items and people think that have power in and of themselves. Near as I can tell, the Israelites think that having the Ark of the Covenant with them in battle will automatically give them the victory. Instead, the Philistines, afraid of the Ark, fight harder--and win. And capture the ark. Eli's sons are killed and the news of the loss of the ark literally kills Eli.
We learn the meaning of the name "Ichabod": the glory's gone. Bummer of a name.
1 Samuel 5, 6. The Philistines never saw Raiders of the Lost Ark so they can be excused for not knowing what a bad idea it is to mess with God's Ark. Still, death, tumors and rats? They are getting off easy, in comparison to the Pharaoh of the Exodus.
They decide to send it back in an unmanned cart pulled by 2 cows. It works. Some yahoos from the Israelite town Beth Shemesh decide to peek under the lid. Big mistake. It's not magic but it is dedicated to God and only Levites and priests are to touch it. As Israelites, they should know this.
Psalm 81. A hymn of praise for God on a festival with a dollop of reminder to follow the Lord only.
John 16. Jesus is going away but that's good; his replacement is the Holy Spirit, who will lead them into all truth.Things will be hard for a while--like childbirth. And like childbirth the entrance of new life eclipses the memory of the pain.
In direct contradiction to the "Accept Jesus and your life will be a breeze" kind of theology, Jesus promises that we will experience trouble in this world. We can draw courage from the fact that Jesus has overcome the world.