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“To All Who Were Waiting for Redemption”

February 1, 2014

Anna:  I had only been married seven years when I became a widow; I was still a child, really … and then, suddenly and terrifyingly alone.  My husband’s family reclaimed all his estate, his earnings, our very home, as was their right under the law.  What else could I have done?  Everything I had naively built my life around was gone.  I had no children … by the grace of God, I had no children … and no chance at making a livelihood of my own.  Our people, the great nation of Israel, were conquered by Romans, and as worn as the dirt under our feet.  The world was a difficult place for anyone, much less a young widow.

With no other hope left to me, I moved in to the temple.  And there, when my life should have been over, it began.

I was little more than a beggar at first, living in the courtyard of the temple, and off of the people’s generosity.  I’m ashamed to say it, but all the while those early years, my heart burned with bitterness and with a blind rage at the God who had stolen my one small sliver of happiness in this world.  I stained that holy place with my dark heart.

But even as I sat paralyzed by grief and anger, beyond me there was a daily flow of worshipers, rabbis, pilgrims, and those who brought sacrifices or offerings.  And people were kind to me.  They’d bring food, clothing, coins.  They gave freely, even out of the astonishingly little they had.  After much, much time, my heart began to soften.  I began to talk to God again.

What a peculiar thing it is, to come to know peace in the midst of the great blankness of uncertainty.  That’s all my life was – a great blankness, an open space.  And yet the God I had despised and resented never left.  He was as constant and unmoving as the solid rock of the Temple Mount beneath us.  He may have been silent, but He was alive, and over time, I came to believe in him again.

I became an old woman in this temple courtyard.  Eighty-four years a widow!  By now, I have no family but the people of God, those who worship at the temple, and for whom I am as old and gray as these stone walls.  I sing.  I fast.  I pray.  And in this remarkable simplicity, I have found some small measure of peace.  The words to the songs, they come easily.  They are the words our people have sung for a thousand generations.  But behind them … behind all words, all thought … there are more.  Words waiting to be spoken, for the time to be right.

And then, after eighty-four years, a young couple came with their sacrifice to bless their infant, and to purify his mother.  Amidst all the other temple-goers – somber, purposeful, a little ragged around the edges – these two seemed to shine with life and light and peace.  Their faces radiated a joy that I can hardly remember feeling myself.

I had to meet them.  I had to hold their child.  I felt pushed by the hand of God across the courtyard — I walk slowly and feebly these days, but I knew that our meeting was divinely ordained.  My spirit burned to speak to them, to hear what Yahweh was doing.

But when I saw their child, that blessed boy, held tight in his mother’s arms, I knew the shining Hope that He had sent our people.  We would be saved.  He had not forgotten us.  That child was our Messiah.

How and why the Lord is working I could not even guess at.  But I know this one thing — I have seen the redemption of our people.  Our God is at hand.  And I would happily languish another lifetime in the temple courtyard for yet another glimpse of that child.  All this emptiness, all this blankness of my life, all fulfilled in a few divine moments.  One precious baby.  And in him, by the greatest mystery of our God, is all our Hope in the world.

Thank you, thank you, Lord.  Our God, and our Father.  Our great rock, who has held us all this time, and who will save us.

 And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four.  She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.  And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

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One Comment leave one →
  1. February 4, 2014 4:49 pm

    This is so beautiful D. It reminds me of the meditations of Walter Wangerin Jr. You have such a way with words my sweet friend. May you continue to find the room to write and bless us as you string together words of comfort and insight!

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