Thursday, December 22, 2016

Advent 2016



            The long, cold night has finally ended and at last the warmth of the morning sun is beginning to creep through my window.  Throughout the night there were cold winds that made me shiver underneath the woven blankets.  I am grateful for this room in the Temple, for many others are not as blessed as I am.  My heart weeps for those who have little or no shelter at all in these evenings of winter.  I often hear their sighings just outside the Temple walls, the sounds of the beggars on the streets, the ruckus of the goats and cattle.  But enough tarrying now for I must prepare for my day.  A small warmed bowl of goat's milk and bread must suffice.  I've already heard Simeon's voice among the others.  They will be looking for me!

            Of course many are often taken aback that I am continuously in the Temple because, not only am I a daily teacher here, but the Temple is my home.  I do sometimes enjoy their queries as to why I, an aged woman, shares the same standards as the men.  Perhaps some would not want to acknowledge my presence, yet God has placed me here.  I have a purpose to be here although some reasons remain unknown even to me.  I trust in the Lord and prayerfully accept my position as his trusted servant.  At some point perhaps my role will be thoroughly revealed.  So I continue my work questioning the intent.  I lean on the foundation established for me from my Asher forbearers:  "'Tis known only to God one's destiny."

            I think I shall wear the dark blue garments today.  I try to pride myself on my appearance although some would criticize and accuse me of a lack of humbleness.  Yet I must look my best for I am sharing the scriptures, teaching the children, scurrying from one to another as they search for the truths I bear as God's witness.  Travelers often share on their journeys from the Temple that I am here, so many seek me out among the crowds.  Newcomers need a way to distinguish me from the throngs.  My heart soars at the prospect of welcoming the newest arrivals.  Night covers are now put away and the floor has been dusted.  My morning meal is finished and entering into the hallway I am astounded to see the bustlings of the morning:  row after row of families accompanied by their sacrifices to offer...the doves in the cages, the goats and their stench, the sheep and the lambs clamoring among the crowd.  I have never seen the Temple as full as this in all of my years.  Ah!  I've spotted Simeon!

            We both shake our heads about all this confusion before us.  Many mornings we greet one another and discuss all the news and events.  He, just as I, have been hearing more and more stories that many saw a bright star over Bethlehem forty nights ago.  We've learned that the star was so bright that some felt as though they had lost their sight; others thought it was perhaps a vision, or maybe a dream.  Yet it could not have been any of those for far too many are repeating the same story.  "Could it have been the sign so long awaited?" Simeon and I ask ourselves.  However, we are interrupted by one after the other; they are aware that he and I know the Temple better than anyone.  They need a space to rest and to eat; they need to find the scribes and water for their donkeys.  So much confusion.

            "Are you Anna?" I am being asked.  "Are you preaching today?  Where do we find shelter?"  So many questions they ask of me!  None of this startles me...for was written by Moses years ago of my tribe of Asher:  "Your strength will equal your days."  Yes, indeed, and I find my work to be invigorating.  People are often amused that so much work is done by one in her 105th year of life!  But God's word prevails and my prayer is to live many more years with much more strength to gain!  I do not shy away from all the busyness of days like this.  My strength comes from the Lord and I shall praise his holy name as long as I have breath!  Now I must break away from these worshippers, for today is also a day of purification for many young couples and I must get to them at once. 

            Ah!  So many have gathered!  God's love abounds among these faithful servants.  The young bright faces of the couples with their tiny babies!  You would think by now I would have grown tired of all this work, but I rejoice in it and I eagerly move through those gathered.  My heart is humbled that I have born witness to a new generation!  My soul stirs; my mind is pure!  Oh the delights of our Lord!  I feel as though I am being led purposely toward one of the altars.  As I drift away from the large crowd I find myself moving more deliberately, even though I am not sure why.

            My steps quietly take me toward the family awaiting the ritual.  I cannot explain my emotions because they are emotions I have never felt.  In front of me is a young mother cradling her child gently in her arms.  The father looks squarely at the newborn and neither seem to be aware of all the noises coming from both inside and outside these Temple walls.  My heart appears to miss a beat and I feel surrounded by the presence of God.  No one else is taking notice of this couple, and yet I am drawn to them.  I begin to ponder the tales of the bright star so many had seen.  I stare at this trio in front of me and feel inside of me an urgency to draw closer to that small infant resting in his mother's arms.  Approaching them my eyes glance at his mother.  We exchange a nod of our heads, with her honoring me by allowing me to move even closer.  I reach to touch his swaddled clothes and gently stroke his cheeks, I cannot look away from him!  I pray to God and I receive the assurance that this wee baby is indeed the Messiah!  I linger only briefly, not wanting to tear myself away, but I must share this news!  As the prophets of old had said, "We have been looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem."  I must rush to share the news with all that will hear!  For this child, generations have prayed - I must make his arrival known!  For this generation and all the generations to come, our Savior has been born!


-- Janis Lewis



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