Summary: In addition to priorities and purpose, children, and especially the Christ child, gives us passion and perspective.
Last week we started this two part series with the suggestion that among the gifts that our kids give us are priorities and purpose. And we looked at the opening chapter of Luke’s gospel and into the lives of Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary and saw how their priorities and purposes changed when it became known that they would become parents of two children who would be a part of God’s purposes that would grow out of the event that we have always called the Incarnation but now call Christmas.
This morning we move over to the second chapter of Luke and are going to look at two more gifts that kids give us: the gifts of passion and perspective. And we are going to spend sometime with a couple of people who, from the Biblical text, never had children and yet the promise and the coming of the Christ child gave them these gifts of passion and perspective that were woven into the fabric of their life and faith over the course of their lives. These two persons are Anna and Simeon.
Now passion is truly a holiday word. In fact, passion is something that holidays seem to generate more of than at other times of the year; be it passions of frustration due to the holiday pressures or the passions of love and friendship which come as we truly give of ourselves during these times of celebration.
A dictionary definition for passion includes words like infatuation, lust, rage, and a whole host of other powerfully emotional words. And these days if you are in leadership positions you often hear the word “passion” in the context of discovering the thing that motivates you to get up out of bed in the morning and go full blast through the day. Passion is a deep word, it is a powerful word, and it is a gift from our children.
Passion is a word that describes Anna. Here is a woman, 84 years of age and widowed for many years, whose passion for God was strong, deep, and robust. It is revealed to us in Luke 2:38, which says that Anna “talked about Jesus to everyone who had been waiting for the promised King to come and deliver Jerusalem.”
How many children had Anna seen in the temple over the years? How many of those children, not her own, were now adults? How much satisfaction did she get watching them serve God and follow Him faithfully throughout their lives? How many of those male children did she look at, closely, lovingly, and wondered, “Could he be the Messiah?
Children stretch, challenge, and deepen our passions. When they are mastering new skills and opportunities we root them on and we will do whatever we need to help them enjoy these new skills and opportunities and to do them well. We will change our schedules and priorities for them so they can get to practice. We will do without so they have the equipment for whatever sport they want to try. We will practice with them and help them learn. (We also stretch muscles and joints as well).
When they take up a new sport or learn to play a musical instrument, we will utilize the banking systems of our nation to pay for the instruments or equipment and lessons! We will clean out a room or the garage to give them a space to practice. We will be nice and endure the endless hours of off note playing and, if they play the drums or tuba, we will kindly give them the house to themselves so they can practice! Kids give us the gift of passion.
Children gave Anna the gift of passion. A passionate pursuit of and love for the Lord. A passionate faith in His ways, plans, purposes, and a passionate expectation regarding the coming of the Messiah. And that day when she saw the face of the baby Jesus she knew that this child, this boy, was the one.
Luke writes in 2:37, “She never left the temple but stayed there day and night, worshipping God with fasting and prayer.” We know very little regarding Anna. We know that she was a widow. We are reasonably sure that she never had kids of her own. But we do know that she had passion! Passion for the Lord! Passion for His purposes and plans! Why else would Luke say that she never left the temple but worshipped the Lord day and night?
Some might consider her homeless. May be there was sometime of defect that caused her to be an outcast to her own family. We don’t know. But, she had a passion for God.
In an article entitled, “The Three Wise Women,” Christin Ditchfield noted this about Anna, “[she] had a lot of time on her hands. She could have spent that time living in the past and longing for the good old days. She could have become the proverbial busybody… sticking her nose into other people’s business. She could have sat on the porch complaining to her neighbors about her aches and pains and the problems that come with growing older. But she didn’t. Instead,” noted Ditchfield, “Anna devoted herself to loving God.”