Many of us are ready to leave 2020 in the rearview mirror and just move on. There were more downs than ups on this rollercoaster.
Yet, maybe we ought not close the book on 2020 so fast. Even through the heartache, pain, and casualties, God was still at work, stretching us in new ways, helping us grow, or just being with us as we wept and cried.
One of the witnesses to Christ’s birth was a prophetess named Anna. Anna teaches us about how God shows up in unusual ways.
We know little about Anna. Luke gives us just enough information to identify her (Luke 2:36-40). Many who visited the Temple would have known her. She could be found, every waking hour, worshipping, praying, and fasting in the Temple.
Anna lived a hard life. After seven years of marriage, her husband presumably died. In that patriarchal society, she depended on the charity of others for her sustenance. Now at least 84 years old, something magnificent happened. God showed up in flesh and bone before her very eyes in the form of baby Jesus.
None of us will see Jesus like Anna saw him. However, Anna teaches us the power of just showing up. Anna showed up every day at the Temple, just doing what she was able to do. Many of us did the same in 2020. A teacher showed up to her online classroom. A truck driver showed up and transported his goods. A store clerk put on her mask so people could ransack almost empty shelves for food. Pastors and worship teams showed up to empty sanctuaries, praying God would minister through that technological means. Healthcare and frontline workers dragged themselves to their posts for another demanding day. We all just showed up, trusting that God would show up too.
What happened to Anna happened for us. Maybe God showed up through a prayer, card, or phone call that came at just the right time to keep you going. Maybe he showed up by using your own paltry efforts to help someone else.
God was with Anna, and God was with us in 2020. The title Emmanuel captures the meaning of Christmas. It means God-with-us. Take a moment to take stock of some of the ways he showed up for you and through you in 2020. You will be surprised how often he did.