Anna was nothing more than a hunched-over old woman to the noisy crowd that bumped her and shoved her, as they pressed their way through the city streets. Those narrow, cobbled streets were filled with donkeys carrying baskets, with ox carts carrying grain, with servants carrying water, and with pilgrims carrying hope.
Step by step, Anna approached the glorious edifice. Her twisted, gnarled hands gripped a twisted, gnarled stick as she stumbled along. Thump! Thump! Stopping to catch her breath, she craned her head to stare in adoration at the glorious house of God. She marveled at the gleaming marble steps, the tall white columns, and the wide golden gates.
Tales of the Solomon's great temple echoed in her childhood memories. This temple, Herod's temple, began after the death of her husbandand death of her hope to bear children, but not the death of her devotion.
A burst of trumpets and majestic choir filled the air with psalms of praise. The old woman smiled, and recalled the words of King David "For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness." (Ps 84:10 KJV)
There were many pilgrims in Jerusalem today. Some came with heads bowed in shame, leading their sin offering lambs. Some came with heads bowed in prayer, coming to worship their Jehovah. Some came with heads bowed in love, bringing their infants for the dedication ceremony and sacrifice.
These were the pilgrims that Anna sought. For eighty years, she had watched parents proudly holding their newborn babes. Had it been that long? For eighty years, she faithfully waited for the one babe that was different than all others.
Anna knew the ancient Scriptures, the words of the prophet Esaias. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given" (Is 9:6) She knew the Holy One, the Messiah, would come to save His people. That is why she came daily to the temple, for one day He would be there.
A young couple approached the holy building, their eyes filled with awe and reverence. A poor couple they were, for the husband carried a cage of turtledoves. The mother, so small, so young, yet so confident, cradled a swaddled infant. The joy of obedience glowed in their faces.
Anna's heart beat strong. Is this the one? Would her prayers be fulfilled today? Anna limped toward them on her crippled, arthritic legs. Her breath came fast and hard. Would they pass by? Would she miss the Promised One?
The young mother saw her, just an old woman at the temple. She waited for her, hobbling to see the child. She smiled and placed the soft bundle in Anna's old arms. The mother gently lifted the cloth from the child's face.
A rush of joy filled Anna's heart, like a spring of water renewing her youth. She cried, she laughed, she sang! "Let the heavens rejoice and let the earth be gladfor He cometh, for He cometh to judge the earth with righteousnessand truth." (Ps 96: 11-13)