Thursday, January 5, 2023
Reader: “A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.”
Response: “ . . . and the glory of your people Israel.”
Scripture: Luke 2:36-38
Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem.
In Anna, (which means “grace”), we have another truly graceful saint patiently waiting on the Lord to come for many years. She was now eighty-four and had been a widow most of her life. Though not from the priestly tribe of Levi, she had stayed in the Temple fasting and praying for years. Luke wanted to underscore her Jewishness in mentioning the tribe of Asher. The phrase “she never left the Temple” is probably hyperbole. We might say something like “she was someone who was always there!”
She just “happened” to pass by Joseph, Mary, Jesus, and Simeon at just the right time. It was a kairos moment, a moment that had “major significance outside of chronological time.” She recognized the magnitude of the occasion. God’s salvation had come to Jerusalem, God’s own city, in the person of this little baby boy. Along with Simeon, she too had been humbly, patiently waiting.
I wonder how many times we’ve missed something significant because we were tuned out. Or perhaps we were following along, but failed to realize the importance of the event. There may even be times when there was an unusual response to something of the moment and only later did the response become clear. Many years ago my wife, Nancy, and I left my parents to drive from the farm in Illinois to join what was then Campus Crusade. After giving my dad a hug and telling each other we loved them, I cried for the first sixty miles. I remember thinking, “Where is this coming from, it’s not like I’ll never see him again.” Truth was, dad was killed in a farming accident a few months later. Our departure from the farm was a kairos moment which was later revealed to be such.
On a little different note, Anna gives us another of the wonderful reminders of the effectiveness of the prayers of the elderly. I’ve heard on several occasions from elderly people, “I can’t do much anymore, but pray!” That “much,” my friends, is the most! Find an “Anna” today you can encourage. Maybe you are that Anna. You don’t have to be over sixty-five!
Music: “Good Christian Men Rejoice” Robert Shaw Chamber Singers
Lord, you know better than I know myself that I am growing older, and will someday be old. Keep me from getting talkative, and particularly from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and on every occasion. Release me from craving to straighten out everybody’s affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it all, but you know, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.
Keep my mind from the recital of endless details-give me wings to come to the point. I ask for grace enough to listen to the tales of others’ pains. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains – they are increasing, and my love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. Help me to endure them with patience. I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others.
Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally it is possible that I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint-some of them are so hard to live with-but a sour old codger is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people. And give me, O Lord, the grace to tell them so. ―anonymous 17th century nun