Anna enters, children run toward her and escort her to
her seat. Gather around.
Oh, my such wonderful children.
It does my heart good to see so many young ones in the
house of the Lord. Yes, yes. Michael, Michael. Come,
take my arm. Don't let me fall down. I've gotten a bit
feeble in all these years.
Ah, yes. Let me get a good look
at all of you. (look long and deep into some eyes)
[Sniff. Handkerchief, perhaps] Michael, you are a good
boy, you must make your mother proud. . Where is she,
your dear mother? Mother! Do you place in his hands the
scriptures? He must study. . . no, you all must study.
But Michael my child - perhaps you will grow up to be a
rabbi. No? Oy, you could do worse! You know, we could
maybe make for him a match. I met this beautiful little
girl the other day. Her parents would no doubt be happy
to have her future taken care of. Ah, you don't like
that idea? Mind my own business you say?
Kayla, dear, would you go get
that bench for me to sit on. Settle into seat. Oh, my
goodness, my bones are aching. I don't recommend anyone
live so long, waiting, always waiting.
There was a time so very long
ago, that I looked just like this into the eyes of every
child that came to the Temple. Eighty four long years.
Hoping to see the face of the one that was promised to
us so long ago.
Oh, when I was just a child like
you my mother and father would tell me the stories of
our people and the prophecies of Isaiah and others just
as your delightful person read, just a little while ago.
My, my, our people have had such a history!!! That we
have often had to call on God to help us many times. Did
your mommas tell you about the time we lived in Egypt as
slaves? You must always remember and never forget!!!
What can you tell me? Hmmmmm.
Yes, it was awful. They beat us and whipped us and gave
us very little food or rest. We cried out to our Lord to
save us and he brought us Moses to get us out of there
and to lead us to a new home. But you know? Even though
we were free from the Egyptians, life was not easy. We
fought among ourselves, we complained about what we had
to eat and drink, our feet hurt walking all over that
desert. We had to fight and kill to finally get the land
on which we were going to make our homes. Our lives were
far from the dream we had hoped for. We were far from
And, as if that was not enough,
we were living on land that was traveled all the time.
Sometimes that was good. Caravans brought stuff from
countries far far away for us to buy. We had all kinds
of exotic toys, clothes, and food. But the bad part was
that we were also on the land bridge between countries
that were fighting constantly. Our lives were always
caught up by war and we suffered from it all the time!
Armies went through our cities, killing and stealing
from us. Destroying our houses and stores. We never knew
peace for very long. It was always so frightening.
You know, it was the Assyrians
who were attacking us when Isaiah prophesied. They had a
very bad habit of taking people and moving them to
another country after they conquered you. Then they'd
move other folks into your house from still yet another
country. OY VEY, Even our kings were getting murdered!
May God protect us! Such a miserable mess. You never
knew if you'd see your family again, alive.
So, along comes Isaiah the
prophet to talk to our king. And what does he tell him?
Be quiet, listen, and trust completely in God. King Ahaz
thought he was crazy. How could he just sit there and do
nothing except trust that God would take care of it?
Then he tells him about the
child who would be born. The child that would reign in
righteousness and would bring real lasting peace. Do you
know that was 700 hundred years before I heard of that
child? 700 years before I would begin to hope that
perhaps that baby would be born in my lifetime. For our
people had continued to see war and fighting, generation
after generation until finally it was the Romans who
occupied our land. Oh, they were conquerers all right,
but they did not bring the kind of peace that we had
been hoping for all these centuries. But still we
Now we enter the time of my
life. You know I was only 14 when I got married. Can you
imagine. So very young. But in my time that was not how
we saw it. He was a good man, my husband. But we were
not to be happy for very long. 7 years later he died.
Now, I could have gone home to my parents to live and
hope that my father could have found me another husband
so that I could have had many many children. Maybe he
might even be wealthy and I could have a fine life. But
I chose against that. I chose instead to come and live
in the house of the Lord, to spend my life in prayer.
You may ask why. And I will tell you. Because I BELIEVED
in the prophecy. I believed that the child would come
who would be filled with wisdom and understanding
________________________________. What do you believe
in? What sets the pattern of your days? Do you believe
the sun will always rise in the east and set in the
Well, I believe that God is the
only one who can save us from ourselves, that only God
can stop the fighting and the killing and restore joy to
the land. And, so I prayed that it would be so! I prayed
that this child of peace would come! I searched the
faces of every man woman and child that entered here,
looking for the eyes of the ONE! I went without food
while praying that I might be focused better, focused on
the only hope that we had. . . Emmanuel. Other
worshippers came and went, but I stayed, sleeping in the
corner on a mat, eating what others might pass on to me
out of their kindnesses.
84 years, my little friends. 84
years! And then the day came. Mary and Joseph brought
him, just a wee little fellow. But you could tell. There
was a whole different feeling in the room, you could
sense love and acceptance, evil thoughts flew far far
away. It was as if God had stepped into the room and
filled it with the presence of heaven, the intense light
of understanding how and why the universe and all that
is in it exists and moves. You cannot imagine what that
was like. You couldn't help but run and tell everyone
that the redemption of Israel had arrived.
But now you are waiting for
something. I can sense it in the air. This celebration
of what you call Christmas. What is this thing all
about? ___________________. What, what - you want to
celebrate his birth? Of course, of course. It is a
glorious festival. A time of gathering, a time of light
and warmth. a time of healing and new beginnings,
sharing gifts, family feasting, but haven't we been
doing that for two thousand years? So many years of
saying hello to the baby.
It is time to say hello to the
fullness of the event. When Jesus walked the earth, he
CHANGED people. There was something about his face, his
feelings, his actions that made people feel safe and
made people different. He didn't issue rules and laws,
instead he told them what the kingdom of heaven was like
so that they could live it now. And he didn't avoid the
mean angry people. Instead Jesus got to know them,
walked and talked with them, had dinner with them. He
got to know their needs and filled them. And they grew
in love and understanding.
Let's look at the scripture
verses. (From the Wolf shall live with the lamb to the
hand on the adder's den.) What do you think would happen
today if we were to put these animals together in a
field for a few days? Sure, the weaker ones would be
dinner. And, that should give us a clue. Everyone and
everything has an innate desire to survive. Animals only
kill for two reasons: if they are attacked or they are
hungry. Two very strong needs.
I'm going to bring out a friend
of mine, out of this bag where he has been napping. I
don't think any mother on earth would allow their baby
to play with one of these and yet the scripture verse
tells us this will happen someday. In a way, it happens
now. There are people who have taken the time to study
snakes and can handle them with some bit of safety. But
they have gotten to know the snake's needs and how they
react and the human works to live within those
guidelines. But not perfectly because humans despite
their best desires cannot communicate directly with
But humans seem to be a lot more
complicated. What we think we need to survive goes way
beyond food and protection. And how we go about getting
it is shameful. For example. How many know someone, who
lets say you get a great toy or game for your birthday,
will be so jealous that they would rather make fun of
you or steal it or break the game instead of just
waiting for you to share or asking to play? And how do
you feel when they do that? Do you feel like inviting
them over now? No. And your parents might even demand
that the friend's parents pay for the broken or stolen
game. Right? Or, you might even feel like beating them
up so they won't ever do that again!
No, no, no. What's going on here
is a spiraling whirlwind of getting even in the name of
doing what's fair and right. Is that really justice and
righteousness? Maybe by human standards. But not by
God's. Sure, our fists may stop the action we don't
like. But it doesn't cure the underlying problem. And
that is what God is always trying to get at the heart
of. Instead of reacting to a person's behavior because
it is threatening to us, God would have us react to the
person's heart because it is threatening them.
It's the same with countries.
They take on the personality of a human and react
emotionally and unpredictably. Nations have been
fighting nations for thousands of years. Wars eventually
stop the destructive behavior. But the problem is still
there waiting for its next opportunity. We are bombing
the heck out of the Taliban and may defeat them, but
terrorism will appear again and again. As long as we
think and react out of human desire, the problem will
still be there.
So, what is the answer my
children? It comes to us every Christmas and most of us
miss it. We celebrate his birthday, but forget to let
him be born in our hearts. We put lights up everywhere
until our streets sparkle, but we forget to let the
light of understanding and wisdom take over our minds.
We eat lots of good food, bounties of cookies and candy,
but forget that the greatest feast of all is the simple
bread and wine of communion with Christ and one another.
Think children, think!!!! Christ
will come again, but not as the infant. AND It is not a
matter of waiting for Christ to come to be your king,
telling you what you should and should not do. Sure,
that would be an improvement since Christ is a righteous
God, but it is still the same system. What God wants is
for Jesus to be born IN you, so that your thoughts are
like Jesus' and your actions are motivated in the same
ways Jesus' are. You and God and Jesus and the Holy
Spirit now coordinating your thoughts for the same goal
- peace and understanding. So that we and the world will
be changed. And Christ will be ALL in ALL.
Grow into it. It doesn't happen
overnight. When I look into your eyes now, I'm not
searching for one Messiah, but looking for the light of
Christ to shine back at me and when I see it in all of
your faces, I will know the time has come for us to see
sermons by Pastor Joan