Sunday, February 02, 2014

Anna - anything but pathetic

"Presentation of Jesus in the Temple" by Rembrandt (1627-8)

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Luke 2:22-40

TO CHEW ON: "And coming in that instant she (Anna) gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem." Luke 2:38

By all kinds of criteria, Anna should have been a pathetic woman:

  • She was a descendant of the insignificant tribe of Asher from Galilee. The common saying was, "No prophet can come from Galilee."
  • She was childless.
  • She was a widow, alone after only seven years of marriage.

"Even today a widow in the Middle East is practically thrown into the grave when her husband dies," says Gien Karssen in Her Name is Woman: Book 1. "The only thing a childless woman in Anna's time could do after the death of her husband was return to the house of her parents to wait for a second husband, or death" - p. 150.

But instead of letting her unenviable position define her, Anna embarked on a new course.
"She didn't flee to isolation and self-pity after the great blow in her life. She didn't become a burden to her relatives. She didn't become a lonely women to whom life has nothing to offer, nor did she become a person whom everyone pitied, but no one knew how to help. And she didn't flee into the past....Anna fled to God. She dedicated her life to serving Him in His Temple. She prayed and fasted. She was willing to give more attention to God than to herself and to give His work the highest priority" Gien Karssen p. 150-151.

Notice how, on this day, God ordered her steps, "And coming in that instant..." The fruit of her dedication and focus was sharp spiritual hearing, keen sensitivity. God had prepared, primed and polished her for this climactic moment of unveiling when she got to see Who every devout Jew longed for — Messiah! Because she was so intimate with God, she recognized. She knew!

She used the moment well, praising God ("broke into an anthem of praise to God" - MSG) and broadcasting the news of this divine Baby to all who were seekers like herself (Luke 22:38).

Maybe like Anna, you have every reason to feel disappointed and cheated by how your life has turned out. If circumstances have taken you off the rails of what you expected, take encouragement from Anna. Be like her and choose to take the focus off yourself and put it on Him. You can let Him shunt you onto a new track of worship, prayer, service and usefulness. And in this way you'll be poised to recognize and grasp all the "instants" that God still has in store for you!

PRAYER: Dear God, Anna's life reminds me of the exchange You promise: beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. Please help me to cooperate with You in making these substitutions in my life today, and always. Amen.

MORE: Feast of The Presentation

Today is the day the church celebrates the presentation of Jesus in the temple — the Feast of The Presentation.

The liturgy for today begins with this collect:

"Almighty and everliving God, we humbly pray that, as your only-begotten Son was this day presented in the temple, so we may be presented to you with pure and clean hearts by Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked MSG are taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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