Women of Advent and Christmas: Anna
- Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Christmas came to old Anna, because Anna was waiting. Anna saw beauty, because God chose her and she said "Yes."
A weird belief in our culture is that God is pretty lucky if we choose him. "Why should I believe in God?" people will ask me, and there are certainly answers to this question, but really it is not a very good question.
Our hope should be that God believes in our continued existence. Of course, it is perfectly possible to ignore God and His will and live ... for a time. It is true that getting rid of an outside moral law means nobody can be a hypocrite. It is also true that dispensing with any hope of paradise and life after death means that there is no fear of hell either.
For a little bit elite secularism can even maintain itself by living off the heritage of a religious past, but such a culture cannot last. The rest of us start living as we please, because the rulers have a hard time telling us what good is let alone why we should sacrifice our short-term pleasure for the future.
We eat, too much, we drink, too much, and tomorrow we die, but tomorrow seems far away. Even religion evolves into something to satisfy our felt needs.
Our God makes no demands on us, but we make plenty of demands on Him. "Give us," we pray, "our daily Sudafed." We don't want pain, even if it lives us psuedo-fed and stunted intellectually, emotionally and spiritually.
The warnings come too late and when they come we have been taught to blame God. Why didn't He tell us? Or if He did tell us why didn't He put His message on television and not in a book? Or if we saw something on television, then why didn't He make it more attractive?
We are cancer victims who blame the doctor for our smoking and curse the medicine for our disease.
Anna is a perfect example of the opposite point of view. She had the sense to take personal pain and use it to learn. It got her attention and instead of wallowing in emo reflections of how hard things had gotten, she went to God's House and wanted for Him to come.
I have never heard a sermon on Anna, but she was part of the Christmas story. Luke, doctor and follower of Jesus, told her story in the second chapter of his life of Jesus:
36There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Anna never makes the Christmas special, because all she got to do was see God in the flesh. There were no angels and no need for a special effects budget. She was a prophetess, but not our exciting modern kind that predict Hitler's rise like Nostradamus or Michael Jackson's death like the psychics at the National Enquirer. Instead, she was the dull Biblical kind, who end up speaking for God.
God usually doesn't tell us much about the future, apparently thinking we need to focus a good bit more on the present. He also seems stuck on saying how great He is, which irritates modern people even more.
We cannot understand why God would send a prophetess to give Himself a recommendation. Is He insecure? Is He worried we will not notice that He is Creator?
We forgot that God does not need our praise ... omnipotence, omniscience and omnibenevolence leave you feeling good about yourself. Instead, God knows we need to see God, because God is perfectly good, beautiful, and true. We would be changed for the better by such a vision, but we cannot take the awesomeness straight.
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