“She spoke of the child to all who looked forward to the deliverance of Jerusalem.”
Wednesday, 30 December 2020
We know very little about the prophetess Anna we meet in Luke’s Gospel. We know that she was the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, 84 years old, a widow and served God day and night through fasting and prayer.
The Eastern Orthodox Church considers Simeon and Anna as “God-receivers” and the Old Testament’s last prophets. Her figure is often depicted with Mary, Joseph, the Christ-child and Simeon. Tradition holds that Christ met his people, Israel, in the figure of these two elderly people.
We know about Anna that she knew her people’s desires: they were longing for freedom and deliverance from all that enslaved them. She saw in the Christ-child the realisation of that desire.
Our desires or yearnings are what point us to something beyond where we are now. The Scriptures often introduce us to people who could see through their immediate surroundings, people who wanted more, needed more, desired more and often ached for more.
Very often, when we unpack the yearnings and desires we have, we discover that they are those deeply human ones: the desire to be seen, noticed, free, secure, for intimacy, love and friendship.
We all yearn for something. Often we cannot articulate it. We yearn for what Jesus calls “the kingdom of God”. The Scriptures tell us that the kingdom is not a matter of eating and drinking but about being together in justice, peace and community.
In our own lives, and in our families, we are invited to unpack the yearnings and desires that we have personally and together as a family. There will be clashing desires, but we may ultimately discover that beneath them all is a common thread. They point us to our desire for freedom and deliverance from our own restlessness, temptations, immaturities, depressions, loneliness, doubt, struggle with faith, irresponsibility and even our own breakdowns. The prophetess Anna saw these in her people. But she knew that the child she stared at offered the freedom their yearning and desire longed for.
In what ways does the Christ-child we ache for, in these days after Christmas, help you and your family unpack the desire and yearnings you have so that you can find the deliverance you seek?