Day 18-Waiting for a Prince while waiting for the King? | Christina Edmondson
Full confession, I am one of “those women” and you can keep your judgement in your pocket.
I squealed at the news of Meghan Merkle’s engagement to Prince Harry and nearly lost my whole mind viewing pictures of Queen Serena Williams at her fairytale-esqe wedding. 2017 has been a heck of a year and along with prayer, chocolate and humor, one-dimensional romances served as a great distraction. So, I have watched a movie or two about some dashing prince marrying a smart/sensible women. She has “the career”, humor and authenticity which is why when she appears in the rose garden or at the top of the steps entering the grand ball everything stops to honor her flawless entrance. Do you remember Prince Hakeem going to Queens, NY to find his future queen, the lovely Lisa? It looks like all is lost when Hakeem is snatched up to return back to marry a bride of his father’s choosing but surprise ending…there is Lisa in her blush pink tulle dress to save the day.
While this is not the story for all women or maybe even most, I imagine that there are some who find themselves either waiting for a “prince” or grieving the loss of one. “Single and saved” black women can find themselves bombarded with accurate and inaccurate reports of the availability of marriageable men, for example. It is likely we know someone grieving the idea of marriage, family, or whatever is in their storybook…good stuff that’s not always guaranteed. Good stuff that might become even more out of reach because of personal, social and systemic sins.
I want to humbly offer a couple of lessons I am learning from a prince-less widow awaiting the true King found in scripture.
When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
Luke chapter 2 introduces us to two older saints at the temple. We hear the words of Simeon, a “righteous and devout” man who encounters the young Jesus. Simeon is beside himself and declares the far reaching cross-cultural implications of Jesus’ reign. Jesus will be a light to the Gentiles and glory to his people, Israel. Simeon prophesies the pain Mary would suffer at the cross. Finally, he is so struck by this encounter that he basically says, “God, you can come get me now!”
Now, contrast this with Anna’s experience. The text shortly follows Simeon’s interaction with Jesus’ family with details regarding the life of the prophet. One would think that Luke would highlight the words of the prophet and the life of the devout man but that’s not what happens here in his account. We see the reverse of this and that draws us in. It is the life of Anna and not just her words that point to Christ.
Anna has lived most of her life as a widow. Several decades. After seven years of marriage, her husband died.
Anna spends her days about her Father’s business in a way that most of us cannot imagine. Well, I will just speak for myself. I hate fasting and there are seasons of my life where I struggle to pray. Real talk. Yet, Anna cultivates a life so entrenched with worship that Jesus shows up and meets her at the temple.
Jesus will meet us in our worship and give us a true cause to speak. Anna uses her words to point outside of herself to a people needing redemption. The earnest Simeon believes he is done his journey but after seeing Jesus, Anna starts a new one. Anna sees a people needing redemption as greater than her needing a new life, a prince or a ticket out of here. She has been fasting and praying for decades and doesn’t ask for a thing when Jesus actually shows up! Maybe, it’s because whether we know it or not Jesus himself is the answer to all of our prayers.
Seeing Jesus gives Anna her new marching orders and while she might live in a world like us with little value for old widowed women this prophet has something to declare. Anna’s words are of the hope about the King of redemption.
During advent we cultivate a spirit of holy expectation. As we move towards the remembrance of Christ incarnation and birth we become hopeful even in suffering unwanted singleness, grief or uncertainty. This King who meets us now in worship is coming again. In the meantime, like Anna, let’s become reinvigorated when he shows up at the temple. Sisters, there is nothing wrong with wanting good things including a prince, a promotion or a clear path.
But, let’s be real.
Only the King can bring justice to systemic sin. Only the King can deliver and cleanse us from our sins. Only the King can produce the true happily ever after.
Today’s Reflection Questions
- How do I communicate to my good desires that I value the coming King even more?
- What is the worshipful work that the Lord would have me to do while I wait for earthly good things and the great King?
- How can I encourage and serve my sisters who are experiencing days, years and decades of waiting for good things?
Thank you Jesus for meeting bereaved women at the temple, ashamed women at the well and dismissed women at the tomb. Ultimately, you continue to meet women dead in sin and bring them to new life. You show up in our worship and provide us with purpose. Today, I am mindful and grateful for women like dear my mother in law, a worshipping widow. By your Spirit you have strengthened her song and while she misses her prince you point her to the most worthy King. This makes her an even more excellent prophetic voice and witness to your redemptive work. I am grateful for the witness of my saved, single and celibate sisters who demonstrate obedience to your commands and delight in you. Help all of us encourage the women in our lives who find themselves longing for lost or unfulfilled good things. Forgive us and sustain us when we falter. May we all delight in the answered prayer that you are enough while we wait. Amen
Songs of Mediation and Praise