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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

When the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and Groundhog Day Coincide

The movie "Groundhog Day" came out 23 years ago.  It's probably been that long since I've seen it, but I remember the basic principle.  Phil the meteorologist wakes up to the same day, one of the worst days of his life, over and over and over again.  I don't remember a whole lot about the plot, but this exchange from the movie caught my attention:

Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?

Ralph: That about sums it up for me.

Stay with me.  I promise I haven't gone all civic calendar on you...

I wonder if this is how Anna felt as she waited for the Messiah, day after day after day...

Luke 2:36-38, "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.

She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying...

What must it have been like to live like this?  By anyone's standard, Anna was old - certainly by the standard of the day.  In our current culture, I have observed that we typically assign worth to people based on select criteria, and age plays a part in our decision making process.  Put bluntly, if you're "too young," you are often dismissed, and if you're "too old," it's the same story.  This is a shame, because when the only ideas that matter come from people who are 35-55 years old or so, we have lost both the optimism of youth and the wisdom of age.

But here we have Anna, an elderly woman, widowed, probably all but forgotten by society, after years of the same story, seeing the Messiah with her own eyes and speaking truth into the lives of those who waited for him.

Albert Einstein is widely credited with saying that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Sometimes I think he's right.  But only if it's not the right thing...


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