The prophet Anna was also there in the temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. In her youth she had been married for seven years, but her husband had died. And now she was eighty-four years old. Night and day she served God in the temple by praying and often going without eating. At that time Anna came in and praised God. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free.
Luke 2: 36 – 38
Reflect on the word AGEING for a few moments.
Anna was a prophetess, widowed at a young age. At 84 years she was a committed worker in the temple to which the young boy Jesus was brought by his parents. Anna, one of the very few women named in the Bible, prophesies that Jerusalem will be set free, because of the birth of Jesus.
Different cultures recognize ageing as a time of wisdom, respect and the time for passing on beliefs and history to the next generation. Today, consumerism uses ageing as a profitable market for selling anti-ageing products. Loss of youth is portrayed as a loss in image; changes in appearance are seen as a loss in identity; change in reproductive functions is portrayed as a loss of sexuality; change in economic status is portrayed as a loss of independence.
Ageing is a natural process of life. It celebrates remembrance, wisdom and maturity. Age did not determine Anna’s response to God or limit her obedience. Age enhanced her commitment and her faith. It gave her the wisdom to recognize the child Jesus and the freedom to declare her perceptions to all who would listen.
God of the young and the aged, teach me to respect and value each stage of my life’s journey.
© Ranjini Wickramaratne-Rebera
For a number of years, our dear friend Ranjini Rebera wrote Biblical reflections for the use of Gungahlin Uniting Church and others, usually for Advent and Lent. We were privileged to receive these, as Ranjini had a working history of writing and teaching on a global stage. Each time she completed the considerable work on one of these studies for us she would announce firmly, ‘That’s it. That is the last one I’m writing. No more. End of story!’ But as Advent or Lent came around again she would start hinting that she’d had an idea for a reflection – and she would write another one.
When she completed a Reflection for Lent 2021, we were not to know that this really was the last one. Ranjini died on 13 October 2021. We miss her intellect, her leadership, her vivid personality, her artistic gifts, her deep faith and her pastoral heart. We have lost some colour from our world.
The Gungahlin Uniting Church Worship Team, where Ranjini served for several years, offers Ranjini’s study material, first produced in 2015, as we give thanks for her life shared among us.