Ever notice that your Christmastime heart is always filled with names and faces that you maybe haven’t thought about since last year? It’s like you put their memory away in the attic of your mind and bring them out like your old, familiar favorite Christmas tree ornaments, and you think, “There you are! So glad to see you again!”
I’m not talking about Santa or the wisemen. I mean those less-than-protagonist characters who have their moments on stage in the Christmas play that takes place in your heart each year. Folks like…Bing Crosby (don’t you love where he whistles a harmony part near the end?)…George Bailey’s wife, Donna Reed (Have you thought about her ONCE this year? See?)…along with Ernie and Bert, the cop and taxi driver of Bedford Falls (Did you know that they named the Sesame Street Ernie and Bert the same thing and it was a complete coincidence?)…Nat King Cole (“…Altho’ it’s been said many times, many ways…”)…Bob Crachit…Speaking of Bobs, Bob Newhart, Will Ferrill’s adoptive dad in “Elf”…then there’s Bumble, Yukon Cornelius and Hermie, the elf who wants to be a dentist…
Wow! The list is longer than the one I used to give Santa!
Speaking of minor players in Christmas stories…Did anyone think of Anna, the Christmas prophet? Maybe she’s been closer to your heart than you realize this Christmas…
Remember how in Luke, chapter two, after the Holy Couple found a barn…and after the Holy Babe was wrapped in swaddling clothes…and after the angels’ surprise appearance to the shepherds…and after the shepherds’ surprise appearance to Mary and Joseph and the Baby...in fact, a week after…
…the Holy Family went to the city of Jerusalem, four miles or so down the road, to dedicate our Lord in the temple. It was time for Him to receive His Name. And there were plenty of people there, as always. But there was one person who was always there. Had been for YEARS! It was an old prophet named Anna. Her life had been very sad, but it says she was a prophet and she must have known that her day was about to get…wonderful!
She had been married for seven years. Then her husband died. If she was married at the normal age of thirteen, she was left a widow at twenty. She remained a widow for…eighty four years! So she was 104! The widow’s life was usually very tough in those days. They couldn’t seek a profession or career options back then. They had to trust God for everything, everyday. That’s why she “never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying…” (Luke 2.37) She came around the corner at the very moment the young parents did, and she saw… the Infant King!
Another older person named Simeon had asked to hold the Child, and he did.
I’m not sure if Anna asked, “May I have a turn as well?”
(“Uh…I don’t think so. You’re like, 100…and we don’t really know you.”)
But after all those years of widowhood, she saw in the arms of a young couple, the One Who loved her most!
Luke says that “…she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem…”
Last month, you heard about widows in India. Just like Anna, many of them become widows at a very young age. With children to care for, and no way to support their families, so many who have heard the “glad tidings of great joy!” from Victor Nandigam and his faithful, courageous friends, have opened their hearts to Him, turning from harsh, heartless, fearful beliefs, to Jesus and His love! Victor tries to care for them all he can. He prays that God will allow him to provide one sari, the native dress, for each widow every Christmas. It will be their whole wardrobe for the year. So…
We put dozens of envelopes on a Christmas tree! One tag for $25 bought 2 and 1/2 saris. Enough tags to buy 325 saris for 325 widows ! Along with 60 envelopes for the 60 orphans who live in Victor's home (!), at $20 each tag, this bought a school outfit and a book bag for each of the kids. That tree was covered with envelopes! By this past Sunday, the envelopes were ALL GONE!
Psalm 65.4 says “the streams of God are filled with water!” And the hearts of Triple C are filled with Christmas love!! Along with a greatest Christmas dinner ever for 180 inmates at the Morgan County Prison…and sending $1200 to Jane, Tasha, and Hallie in Chicago, so that ladies from the inner-city can have help preparing themselves for that up-coming job interview …how could we ever thank you enough for caring and loving orphans and widows in India?! And loving an Indian brother who has so little and cares for so many!! This is the greatest Christmas EVER!!
Because along with children with no parents except a Heavenly Father, 325 widows will have a Christmas when they see the love of Jesus flowing to them from the hearts and gifts of those far away who love Him and them! And in India, they will “give thanks to God and speak about the Child to all who are looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem…”
Wow! Thanks for making this the Merriest Christmas ever!