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Anna, a prophet, was also there in the Temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. Her husband died when they had been married only seven years. 37 Then she lived as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the Temple but stayed there day and night, worshiping God with fasting and prayer. 38 She came along just as Simeon was talking with Mary and Joseph, and she began praising God. She talked about the child to everyone who had been waiting expectantly for God to rescue Jerusalem. – Luke 2:36-38
You may be able to identify with this. It’s not so true anymore, but when I was working full time, it was a well-worn pattern. I would come into the house at the end of the day, stick my head in the office where Diane was most often at work, and say, “Hi Babe! How was your day?” All I really wanted was to acknowledge her, let her know that I was home and receive a condensed executive summary of her wellbeing at the moment. I should have said, “Hi, Diane. I’m home. Hope you are doing well. I can’t wait to hear about your day after I’ve had a few moments to decompress. I’m not ready to listen to you now, but I’ll give you my full attention later this evening. You OK with that?” Or something like that.
But I most often would not do that, and Diane took me at my word. She would begin to tell me about her day. I’m not a details person, and she is. So I would zone out after three or four specifics and she would need to keep filling in the details. So many words!
I shouldn’t talk. Because I do talk – at least I did talk for a living. As a pastor, I would lead, teach, preach, counsel, direct, and advise regularly. I had lots of words and used them. In fact I have so many words that today, I find the hard drive in my head spinning furiously seeking the word that I know is there, but can’t quite bring to mind! But I digress. Words. How many do you have? How do you use them?
Anna apparently had many words. She used them to praise God, worshiping and praying day and night. And once she saw the Baby Jesus, she used her words to tell people about the child. Can you imagine what she said? Did she talk about how cute he was? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m not sure that was an item of conversation in those days. Did she talk about how Simeon blessed the child and spoke his prayer to God upon seeing him? Did she point people to the prophecies of Scripture and tell them that this Jesus was the promised One? Did she talk about what it meant that the Messiah had come? That Scripture had been fulfilled? That God had broken his 400 year silence?
It’s easy to get into a conversation these days. Mention COVID. Ask about families’ health. Comment on masks, vaccines, or mandates. You’re likely to unplug a pent-up spew of words – all emotionally-laden and charged. But what if we would learn to see Jesus at work in our lives? What if we would marvel at his grace toward us? What if we made a point of bringing people words of grace and life?
Anna couldn’t help herself in that moment. Perhaps you’ll experience a moment like that as well, when God shows up, and reminds you of his goodness, faithfulness, and love. Maybe we could pray for such moments. That’s what Anna had been doing prior to this encounter.