We've got Mary and Joseph, The Three Wise Men, Angels, Shepherds, Simeon and Anna. And who? Simeon? Anna? The last two seem kind of random. Who ARE these people we keep looking at? Is this serious?
No one usually stops to see them in the Christmas narrative. But we do. We stop. We see. We visit them this season.
Anna is in the temple right along with Simeon that we looked at yesterday. She is "very old." Think: Your Great-Grandma. My Great Grandma Yager was a short and spunky gardener, cook, widow and card-player right up until she passed away. She had spirit and doilies and weird old dolls whose eyes rolled back into their heads in the basement with their eyelashes hanging on for dear life. You know the kind. The smell of hard work and cold concrete and aunts and uncles and endless family tree questions filled each holiday. I am number 5 out of 79 great-grandchildren. Which I always forget and continuously ask where I fall in the order. And yet she never forgot me. I got a card with 2 dollars each year in it. One year each great grandchild got new underwear. Can't beat it. Her legacy is phenomenal.
Anna was widowed, old, and given a fantastic legacy, too. Though old, she had a new anthem to sing and a new story to tell "to all who were waiting expectantly". I love all the gifts God gives. Babies and Grandmas. Young and Old.
Unexpected characters continue to pop up in the Christmas story for us. Simeon who can now die a happy man; Anna who literally lives in the temple, breaking into song.
Can I just be real? These are not the ones I would choose to announce a King. They don't seem like they have a lot of influence and most likely lived in the shadows of society, serving quietly, waiting, hoping, praying.
Not shiny, gifted leaders. Not hip, innovative preachers. Not beautiful, young early adopters. Shepherds and Old Widows. Announcing the arrival of The King. It's the best.
God loves the underdog.
The least of these.
The pushed aside, the forgotten, the hopeful.
But maybe you're thinking: He chose Anna to be a part of the Christmas fanfare because she never left the house of worship and fasted and prayed constantly. Because she was super-spiritual and hardly sinned, I'm sure.
But maybe God chooses ALL kinds of people. Maybe He chooses prostitutes for His heritage and murderers for His kings and blind men for His brothers and you and me and everyone for His family. Those who never leave the church building and those who left church decades ago.
If we have learned anything at all this Advent season let it be that: God loves you and has good for you and wants you to know Him no matter who you are and what you have done and what you are doing right this moment. No matter how stinky or how spiritual. His love doesn't care about any of that. He came for the Shepherds and the Annas. And everyone in between. Thank God.
Dear God, Thank you for coming for each one of us. Thank you for coming for me. When I am rolling my eyes and judging and angry and over-whelmed. When I am compassionate and lovely and joy-filled and at peace. When I am everything and nothing. You came for every one of us, in every state. You certainly are crowned King this Christmas.