26 February 2016

Anna: An Old Woman

Luke 2:36-38

I am an old woman.
My body hurts and aches,
my teeth have all but disappeared,
and wrinkles line my face.
Let this not be a hindrance
as I lift up your praise.

I am an old woman.
There is not much I need.
But one thing I must ask of you,
o Father, hear my plea:
Send us the promised Saviour
to set your people free.

I am an old woman.
I've known you many years.
I've known you in both joy and pain,
in laughter and in tears,
and so I know your faithfulness
and love will never cease.

I am an old woman.
I have seen many things,
but I'd never have imagined

You are too wonderful for words,
for you have heard my prayer
and in my arms the Saviour lies:
a poor woman's child,
helpless and small,
beautiful -
not what I'd have thought -

I am an old woman,
but hear the words I have to say:
the Saviour has come here today,
meek and mild,
only a child,
the power of God
in weakness revealed.

Thanks be to God.


[January 2012]

Anna sees Jesus when Joseph and Mary bring him to be presented at the temple.

Isn't it sad how old age, and old people, are nowadays being sort of relegated to the edge, as if they don't exist? If you look at magazines, you see no old people. I find old people really beautiful. You know, the really wrinkled faces and the only-two-really-black-teeth smile? I love that. It's much more beautiful than all these painted celebrities caked with make-up.

Anyway, old people still have a LOT to say. And two old people, Simeon and Anna, were among the first to recognise Jesus as Lord and pass it on. I really admire their joy. I recently read Luke 2 and I'm really setting these two old people as my examples now. I keep praying that I'll have joy like Anna.

17 February 2016

Syrophoenician Woman: I Won't Take No

Matthew 15:21-28

O Lord, have mercy!
Hear me, and help!
Don't walk away -
please listen to me.
O Son of David,
I know who you are:
I know of your power;
I believe in your love.

O Lord, have mercy!
Why this repulse?
You turn me away
and dash my last hope.
Your calling's elsewhere -
my need not your priority.
In the face of such coldness,
can I believe you are love?

O Lord, have mercy!
Why these harsh words?
Though I cannot deny
I have no claim on you,
no right to your help.
And yet, o Lord,
I will desperately believe,
believe despite all that you are love.

Don't go
before you bless me.
Don't go
without dropping
a few crumbs for me,
at my undeserving feet.
I may not deserve you
but still I refuse
to stop knocking on your door,
demanding your love.

O Lord, have mercy!
My faith won't let you go.
I won't take a no
but cling to your grace
and count on your love.


[13. February 2013]

With references to Jacob's wrestling with God and the parable of the asking friend in Lk 11.

Last Sunday I heard a sermon on this text; a lot of this is based on what I learnt from that sermon.
Why does Jesus turn the woman away? The pastor pointed out that Jesus had a specific calling to help the people of Israel first. Mission to the gentiles started afterwards. His priority was His calling. But here's what this woman did:

  • She recognised Jesus as the Messiah: she called Him the Son of David. She believed in Him.
  • She did not fight against his (absolutely not flattering, even unfriendly) remark where He compared the gentiles to dogs. Instead she acknowledged that she did not have a claim on His help. And I think this is important to realise: that we don't have a "right" to have our prayers answered. We do not actually deserve Jesus at all. So we can't demand anything from Him in that way; He doesn't "have" to give us anything.
  • But this woman refuses to give up. She has strong faith: she believes that Jesus will help, even though He rejects her! She refuses to take no for an answer. And such persevering petitions God answers. Because they are an appeal not for something we have a "right" to receive, but to His grace. Because God WANTS us to trust in His grace and see that it is not because of what we are or are not, or what we have done, but only because of His Love that He accepts us and answers our prayers.

All is grace!

Picture by Juan de Flandes.

13 February 2016

Keturah: Ghost

Genesis 25:1-6

She never left;
she is still here,
filling the spaces
between you and me.
She never left;
she reappears
every time that I fail,
every time that we fight,
filling the gaps
as they widen between us -
haunting me.

She never left;
she is still here.
I hear her voice,
a whisper in my ear
that what you want is her,
what I can never be.
I see her eyes,
following me
accusing me
of stealing your love.
I feel her presence
lying between us,
cold and unyielding,
clinging to you
and pushing me away -
haunting me.

And yet I know there is no ghost -
only my fear, haunting me.
I am afraid of not reaching her standard,
afraid that you might love me less,
that when you see me you think of her
and wish you could have her instead.
I want to be free.

Set me free from insecurity
so I can love you fearlessly,
and be who I am
with no more ghosts
haunting me.


[9. / 12. February 2016]

Keturah was Abraham's other wife... and from the text it kind of looks like she became his wife after Sarah died (which means he must have been crazy old by then) - I just assumed that here. This is mainly about dealing with "the Ex" or the tendency to compare oneself... We don't read anything about Keturah in the Bible other than the children she had, so we don't know how she felt about being the new wife of a widower - but here I looked a bit into what it might be like to feel insecure about the previous wife, to the extent of actually feeling her present.

One problem with the feeling of being "haunted" by the previous wife / the ex / etc is that - I believe - in many cases (especially when we're talking about dead people) it's based on the assumption that this ex is against the new match. Which is not really fair towards her: why assume that she is cruel and unkind and jealous?

Anyway I decided to start out with the "ghost" (the other woman being a threat to the relationship, being "against it") and then move on to the realisation of what is actually going on inside, namely the fear and insecurity that turns the other woman into a threat. It's not the other woman interfering - it all comes from inside Keturah herself. What needs to be "exorcised" is the fear.

(Probably the idea to write about ghosts is the result of reading Northanger Abbey and looking up some gothic horror...)

Picture is from the Venice Haggadah... Abraham and his 3 women - Keturah is the one with the many sons, on the far right.