Grandmother Anna

Grandmother 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 peaceful.

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 waited.

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 west? ______________?

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 snakes.

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 him again.

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