Several years ago an email came to the church from a lady in England. Her name was Anna and she said she was a member of an Evangelical church in the London area. She had a request. She wondered if she could prevail upon the church to provide lodging for her for a week-end, Friday – Sunday, as she was in transit to her new job in Northern Michigan but was not to arrive at that job until that Monday. Wanting to fulfill the spirit in NT hospitality, we agreed and she stayed with George and Jackie Moore for the week-end.
However, during the week-end she revealed that the job she touted had fallen through and could she possible stay on longer to be able to secure another job. We put her up in a local motel and allowed her the use of our church offices and internet to search for a job. We even worked to secure her a job up at The Springs; a camp with which we have had a long term relationship. It was a cleaning maintenance job that provided housing and meals. She declined, saying she could not vacuum. It was then that we realized we had a problem on our hands.
We contacted her home church and spoke with a pastor there. Turns out, this was Anna’s “former” church and Anna had a habit of traveling the world by means of this scam living off the largess of churches attempting to be kind, gracious, and hospitable. When we confronted Anna with this, she said she had nowhere else to go. We gave her until Friday to either take the job we had secured or go to another job she might secure. In any event she was to vacate the room we had gotten for her by Friday.
Friday came and as my schedule runs, I was home in the afternoon exercising as per usual. Josh Waltz, our youth pastor at the time, was here at church while Anna was wrapping up her unsuccessful job search. The motel room had already expired. And when Josh got ready to leave, he told Anna she had to leave. She refused crying and becoming hysterical. Josh called me at home and apprised me of the situation and could I come over and lend a hand? While he was on the phone with me, Anna wandered off into the church and hid from Josh. Josh, being unsettled by this odd behavior, did not go look for her but waited for me to come. When I got here, we attempted a sweep of the church. We looked everywhere, we thought. I asked Josh if he was sure she did not just leave the church and he was sure she had not. After the sweep of the building we started over again thinking she might have been on the move as we were searching. As it turned out, Josh had failed to search the west stair area leading up to baptistery. I had searched the east side but she was not there and I assumed Josh had opened that door as searched the west stairs. He had not.
When we came back to re-search and were now searching together rather than separately, we came to that west baptistery stair area. As Josh opened the door to it a frazzled and frizzy haired witch like looking apparition suddenly moved out at him. I will never forget how Josh jumped back about 10 feet while screaming like teen aged girl. Anna had been found. In order to get her out, we eventually had to call the Livonia police and they came and removed her from the building. That’s our story of “crazy Anna” which has become “legend” here on staff.
But the Bible has its own story of “crazy Anna”. We are told of this “crazy Anna” in Luke 2:36-38. This was a widowed prophetess who was married only for seven years before her husband died and she lived as a widow until her current age of 84. She lived on the Temple grounds and was noted for her fasting, prayers, and prophesying. Anyone who at all regularly visited the Temple grounds must have known Anna. I can only imagine what they might have thought of her; crazy old bat that she was! But she was among those “awaiting the redemption” of Jerusalem. Many must have thought her “off” a little bit for, just like the Anna who would not leave our church building, she “did not depart from the Temple, worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day.” Who would live like this? Certainly, she must have only survived on the benevolence of kind hearts. She had no family, no social life, nothing except her longing expectation to see the “redemption of Jerusalem” (which is another way of saying “the redemption of Israel”). When Jesus was brought to the Temple for circumcision Anna was there. And when she laid her eyes on this eight-day old baby, she knew this was the one. She “began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
Some “crazy Annas” are really a bit crazy! The one hiding in our church building was a bit so. This crazy Anna was nothing of the sort. She was perhaps the clearest thinking of all as she was anticipating the Messiah’s coming. And once she saw and knew that he had come, she began to “speak of him to all”.
I wonder that if in this New Year, we might be so crazy as to “speak of him to all” like Anna did? I wonder if we are waiting for the second coming of Messiah as “old crazy Anna” was waiting for his first coming? I wonder how it would change our lives in 2019 if we were more like her? I hope the New Year will be among the best you have had. But it wouldn’t hurt us to “get a little crazy” this year.