Glimpses in December Darkness: Anna

These notes are intended for distribution to members and friends of the Kirk of Kildaire, Presbyterian church family.  While effort is made to give credit for work done by others, the notes may use material for which appropriate credit is not given.  Also, the notes may differ from the actual sermon as it was delivered.  Remember, sermons are meant to be preached and are therefore prepared with the emphasis on verbal presentation; the written accounts occasionally stray from proper grammar and punctuation.

Luke 2:36-38

Are you looking for redemption?  Are you looking for something or someone who will put your life back together? Are you looking to find a reason to hope in your broken life or in our busted and broken world… or have you given in to your cynicism that nothing will ever change?  Have you decided to settle? Are you longing for a better world… a better future… a world of justice… and peace… forgiveness… love… A world where there is no cancer (I hate cancer)… no Ebola… no ferguson… no torture or terror… no petty fighting over things that don’t really matter… Any… all of that?!

When we sing, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”… does it not become a prayer coming from the depths of our longing?

“O Come O Come Emmanuel,
And Ransom Captive Israel,
That mourns… mourns… mourns… in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear…

O come, (O Come) thou Dayspring, come and cheer.
Our spirits by thine Advent here.
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight…

O Come, Desire of nations, bind
All peoples in one heart and mind;
Bid envy, strife and discourse cease;
Fill the whole world with heaven’s peace”

Every Advent that song becomes a prayer for me… a prayer of desire and hope and longing that God, Emmanuel would come… And I’ve been praying that prayer every advent for years… I mean for decades… longing and hoping for God to come… to come… and redeem…

Many in Israel had been praying that prayer for years… for decades… for centuries… Many in Israel had been waiting and hoping and praying for God to redeem… rescue… heal… help… Israel… With Isaiah they had prayed more than once, “Why don’t you tear apart the heavens and come down God?!” (Isaiah 64)

Anna was one of those who had been praying night and day… fasting… for a long long time… She was a widow now growing very old…  The scholars argue about whether she was 84 years old… or she was widowed for 84 years… Either way… she is old!

According to Luke… she never left the temple… during all those years…

She reminds me of other widows I’ve met in every church I’ve served… You’ve met them. They are the pillars of the church, and their devotion, dedication, and commitment are inspirational…

As someone said, “ The Annas of our world are in the women who have made it to their 90s, having survived wars and economic depressions, and having coped with challenges, disappointments, and the deaths of loved ones, even having put up with discrimination and all sorts of obstacles from  society…  Many of those women worked hard to raise children before they had the opportunity for education and careers…”

But they are not bitter. They did not give up on God.  In their later years they are a source of inspiration and admiration and joy and wisdom for us… as they quietly reflect the light of God’s love and care…

They are the faithful ones you can count on… who show up at every Bible Study… active in Presbyterian Women… they come to every worship service… they volunteer to teach and to serve… they the best at praying…

We meet these Annas every week… in our temples we call the church. You can count on them… And I won’t embarrass them by naming the ones at the Kirk… but you know who they are…

That’s Anna… the prophetess… who no doubt had been praying again and again…
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”…

And today… today… her prayers are answered… Having seen Mary and Joseph bring baby Jesus to the temple for circumcision…  Having heard Simeon quote Isaiah 49 –
 “my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelations to the Gentiles…” 

Today… she is ready to sing the response, “Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel has come to thee O Israel…”

Today, she would have us rejoice again…  Knowing that as we praise God we are speaking about the one… the Christ… we’ve been praying for to come all these years… all of our lives…  She would have us praise this one… and receive this one… into our hearts and lives… knowing that when we do, like Anna… we will “Rejoice…” (because) Emmanuel not only shall come… Emmanuel HAS come to us” ready to light our way and bring bring healing and hope to our lives and to a weary world.





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