wonders of Advent 5 Anna, a prophet sees; holds, shares … fire

19 Dec
light, fire

Prophets hear and speak. They see, hurt for those who hurt God. Those who do not trust and share in the Lord’s love for them. Those who plant their own ways and paths.

Prophets have no such option: they are called to speak the revealed words of the Lord. Their speaking, their voices, are not their own but His. In the Advent story when Mary and Joseph and their child Jesus enter the temple for dedication, two prophets speak to them. First Simeon, then Anna. Here is how Luke’s gospel paints Anna:

36 ‘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, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 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.’

We do not hear Anna’s exact words. We see her as Mary saw her, how Mary describes this moment to Luke.

Anna is a prophetess, yet we don’t hear her words. What then do we see? Hear?

We see her character: a woman who fasts and prays. A woman who is awaiting redemption. Jesus as redeemer is what we, what Mary sees. An old servant redeemed. Her prays are not wasted; her fasting not overlooked.

And she never stops speaking of Jesus in the temple, even after the baby leaves. She is sharing redemption’s birth with us, redemption’s Advent. This is her prophecy; this is what we, and all in the temple hear: Redemption. And she must, must speak.

The prophet Jeremiah answers this why in his own life description – as he prophesies in Jeremiah 20: 9a

Why? Why must an 84 year old speak to all she comes in contact with?

…’ if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name, his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones.’

Jeremiah is not just describing himself: he speaks of prophets. He speaks of light and fire; fires and lights.

Our God is a fire: from the burning bush to the day of Pentecost. From Isaiah’s lips being purified with burning coals to the Lord’s fire that consumes Aaron’s two sons. ( Leviticus 10 ) Anna must share because she, as all prophets have fire in their hearts, in their bones.

This prophetic fire always creates light; it opens all to understanding. All to meaning. This fire does not destroy, but reveals.

Anna’s words are fires and lights. They reveal redemption. This, her purifying instrument that opens the Lord’s meaning, is His words; His redeeming words. Her words work with Simeon’s and Jeremiah’s. With the words of all OT prophets.

And as Jeremiah must speak, Anna also cannot be quiet. For she is a light that speaks to all about redemption’s Advent, it’s fire. She shares with all.

Anna prophesies redemption, for all. She speaks ‘Jesus’- she shares Advent light, its fire.

light… light

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