by Sharon Betters
Anna was a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke 2:37-38 ESV
Think of a beloved older woman who seems to appear at just the right moment with needed wisdom, loving encouragement and kindness. Every interaction with her inspires you to extend your own love to others and you whisper, “I want to be just like her when I grow up.”
In each church Chuck pastored, an elderly woman took that place in my life. Often she did not serve in a public leadership role. Her private life with Jesus flowed over into her personal interactions with all age groups. Children made sure they saw her on a Sunday morning to hear her say their names with joy. Young mothers looked forward to a few minutes of catching up as she asked about each of her children or held them in her lap. Young men knew she loved them and saw their potential, always ready with a funny retort to their teasing.
A friend told me about Martha, an elderly woman who sat in the back row every Sunday, usually cradling someone’s baby so the mother could fully engage in worship. Martha’s crippling arthritis eventually made attending church activities difficult but at her funeral service, one young woman after another told stories of Martha’s practical expressions of love and how she stayed engaged in their lives with cards and phone calls. They described her habit to take meals to new moms, always including handmade tiny knitted caps and sometimes personalized blankies. Others mentioned that Martha recognized when they needed an extra hug or whispered words of encouragement. Some of the young moms longed for more of Martha as a mother, so they regularly spent an afternoon visiting her home, drinking tea, eating Martha’s homemade cookies, and asking questions about how to live life, how to soothe a cantankerous child, and how to love an irritating husband. Those who had not taken advantage of such moments felt deep loss as Martha’s young friends shared how their spiritual mother encouraged them to persevere in the hard places, to recognize the treasure of time with their husbands, and to lean into the heart of Jesus. Time with Martha transformed their thinking and drew them to Jesus. Martha’s life infused their pilgrimages with hope.
I think Anna, the prophetess, a widow after seven years of marriage, lived a similar life. I love Anna and the more I learn about her, the more purpose I see in my own pilgrimage. Anna knows loss and this week we will take a peek into how her response to loss demonstrates how the disciplines of grace can fuel our own life’s pilgrimage as well.
Treasured by Him,
Read Luke 2:21-39
Take notes during your pastor’s message and note specific Scriptures and comments that encourage you in your pilgrimage.