There's been no time to sit and collect my thoughts here recently. Thanksgiving annually signals a time of calendar high-jacking. Time is filled with shopping, parties, and travel plans. These engagements show little consideration for the other events that insist on happening. Viruses don't take a break during Christmas. Neither do bills. Neither does cancer, or death.
There's no other time of year that rivals these days that are spent balancing the highest highs and the dark lows. Just as flipping back and forth between heat and cold is said to cause illness, sometimes I wonder if it's the flooding of giddiness and grief that makes me feel a little heart sick during this most wonderful time of the year.
After scraping guacamole off of the underneath of the kitchen garbage can lid (put there by children who can't seem to find the trash can any other time), folding laundry and intermittently adding to-do items on the scratch piece of paper beside me, I firmly decided that I would write this morning.
Ideas floated around in my head, and like the roll of a dice I landed on Anna, you know "Luke 2 Anna", the one who's briefly mentioned after Simeon, the widow present at the temple after Jesus' birth, who worshiped fiercely and testified boldly. I opened my Bible and read over chapter 2, but was stopped by a phrase that elicited familiar feelings before Anna ever had a chance.
In the beginning of Luke 2, we find Jesus being taken to Jerusalem to be presented and consecrated to the Lord, as was the custom with every firstborn male. Simeon, who was also in Jerusalem, was moved by the Spirit to be at the temple. He had been waiting for some time for the consolation of Israel. He approached Mary and Joseph praising God saying,
"Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace,
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:29-32
A light, he said... for glory...
Verse 33 says that Mary and Joseph marveled at what was said about (Jesus).
I remember Mary pondering when she first received the news that she would give birth to a son. Now she and Joseph are marveling! This clues us in that she's still in awe, but there's some admiration, and maybe even a little parental pride mixed in. That feeling must have been short-lived.
Simeon spoke directly to Mary telling her
"This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed." (verses 34-35)
And then he bluntly told her.
"And a sword will pierce your own soul too."
And that's all we hear from Simeon... Wait... What? How has this not wrecked me before? The next verses go straight to Anna. How can I be remotely interested in Anna when such terrifying and weighty words have been spoken to this mama? And then came the question I had to ask myself.
If I had been Mary, would I still have marveled?
Receiving such dark news did she even hear what Anna had to say? We can't know because we're only told that, once they had done everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee. (verse 39)
Were they overwhelmed by the darkness? By uncertainty? Did they have friends to talk to who understood their fear and trepidation? Was this something Mary and Joseph could bring themselves to talk about with each other? Did they argue about how to handle such weight? Did they silently suffer?
Or as night was ushered in upon hearing such news, were their eyes aware of the bright star hanging in the sky which guided the Magi (when otherwise the wise men wouldn't have known where to go or what to do)? Did they still see the light?
How about you?
Sometimes it's easy to marvel. But when defeat and loss and heart-stopping news is laid upon us how will we respond? Heavy and tired will we still give our admiration to the Christ child for what He has done, for what He is going to do? Will we cling to hope this season when the night star seems covered, out of sight? When we don't understand a part of the plan will we fight to be in awe of a God whose overall plan results in all fatigue and grief being eliminated...extinguished?
Will we still marvel?
The light shines in darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5