Friday, 9 December 2011

Waiting Widow

"When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”, and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismissed your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”

The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “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. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming 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.

When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him."

Luke ch 2 vs 22-40 (NIV)

I have pondered the waiting widow of Anna many times. Simeon was also waiting but it is Anna, that I think of.

To be married only seven years, and then widowed and remain after that always alone. This is what stings the eyes. Of course, she was perhaps not always alone. She may of had family who took her in. She may of had sons and daughters. However, she remained unmarried and she was waiting along with Simeon. Maybe with a grief that never really fades. Waiting on God is not like waiting for a delayed aircraft to take off. It is not like waiting in a supermarket queue. It can seem much harder than that, because we worry that what we are waiting for; (a husband? a baby to be concieved? a friend to become a Christian?) might never come to pass.

Simeon, it seems was sure of what was coming. He knew and he trusted God. These things that trouble me, don't have that same certainty about them. But God is the same. God who sustained the widowed Anna, the waiting Simeon, the unbelieving Zechariah, the amazed Elizabeth, the fearful Mary, the bumbling shepherds, the searching Kings, sustains me. My cause is not dis-regarded. His understanding, no-one can fathom. My strength will be renewed. God is far bigger and more powerful than my concerns and worries. Waiting on God is not like a train station waiting room or a delayed appointment. There is nothing static about it. The real question is; how is God making me more like Jesus at this time? What is he teaching me? How can I serve him?

"Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?

He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

He brings princes to naught and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.

Why do you complain, Jacob?
Why do you say, Israel,
“My way is hidden from the LORD; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

Isaiah 40 vs 21-31 (NIV)

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