Dec 22

John Piper on Christmas

2005 at 12:38 pm   |   by Nicole Whitacre Filed under Homemaking | Holidays

This Advent poem by John Piper—the final in our series of our favorite author’s and teacher’s thoughts on Christmas—is a beautiful description of one woman’s hope in God. Written over 20 years ago (1982) it is one of many poems composed by Pastor John Piper for his church to “bring understanding of the importance of the incarnation” during the Christmas season. May God give all of us the spiritual eyes of “Old Anna.”

by John Piper

At eighty-four her eyes were dim.
In Israel the days were grim.
The Roman overlords would spit
Upon the temple steps and sit
Across the court and watch the priest
On duty leave his feast
And put a towel on his staff
To wipe it up. And then they’d laugh
To see the prelate mount the pyre
And burn the towel with holy fire,
And wash his hands and cast a glance,
As if a spear, which said, “The lance
Of God omnipotent, unprized,
Unfeared by you uncircumcized,
Will hew in pieces every dog
That fears him not and feeds on hog!”
Old Anna spent her days in prayer.
She grieved to hear the Levites swear
And plot behind the temple doors
To take revenge or visit whores
Or give out prophecies on whim.
In Israel the days were grim.
Her eyes were dim but not yet blind
And daily she would come and find
Her place, as close as women could,
Within the court and there she stood
With open hands to God, or knelt
And poured out everything she felt
Of love to Him and hope within
For One to come and bear the sin
Of priests and soldiers, dog and Jew,
And, she confessed, of Anna, too.
Sometimes the priests would jeer and say,
“You’re blind, old woman, stay away.”
Old Anna loved to smile and state:
“You don’t need eyes to pray and wait.”
In fact, she thought, you don’t need eyes
To live in love or make you wise
Or give you joy or bring you light.
Sometimes old Anna woke at night
And saw, within, the Coming One
As brilliant as the rising sun.

O, Lord, grant us the same to see
As we light advent candle three.