Tuesday, November 08, 2011

CrossPurposes 153 On being an Anna


Hi guys, Fred here. The other day I was moving toward the Sudoku in the Sydney Morning Herald when my eye caught a name I recognized among the Funeral Notices. As I read it I found a tear in the eye and joy in my heart.


(nee Arnold).

03.07.1921 – 21.10.2011

Widow of Peter (Piotr), mother with all her heart

and strength to daughters

Emilie and Christina and

proud mother-in-law of

Tom. The most loving of grandmothers to James, Andrew and Adriana, and great-grandmother to Darren Castiel (France).

The world’s best baker of cakes and pancakes.

A woman of great intelligence and courage, survivor of so many hardships through her

deep faith. She loved the Lord with all her soul.

Getragen auf Adlers

Flugein bis hinein

In die Ewigkeit

A funeral service for ANNA will be held at St Pauls Lutheran Church,

St Marys, on Tuesday

(October 25, 2011).

Pretty special, don’t you reckon? I knew Anna and I knew she had died. That I came upon her name in the SMH was pure fluke. However, the family’s heartfelt affirmation of mother and grandmother brought back many memories. I was her Pastor in Sydney for almost 10 years. Her story was unique and at the same time it was the story of thousands of others.

Picture Germany after WW1, a time of uncertainty, painful and resentful introspection after military defeat, complete financial chaos, all accompanied by political disorder indistinguishable from anarchy. As Germany entered the Depression years the turmoil intensified until the Nazi dictatorship crushed all opposition. Then came the Hitler years and with him came war. The brothers went to war and she remained on the farm as her father’s labourer until he died. From that point she worked the farm on her own until she married her Polish husband. One brother died during the war. Another was disabled for life. When the third brother returned from Russia he insisted that the farm was his.

As with hundreds of thousands of others, they moved to Australia. Soon after they arrived her husband became sick and could no longer work. (In fact he spent his first day in Australia in hospital.) With an invalid husband and two children she established a poultry farm at Blacktown in western Sydney. It was there that the family was finally able to establish itself.

That’s the bare-bones of the story. But the thing which most got me about Anna was her deep and unswerving faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour. This was not a lady to skip church. She was in Sunday worship because she wanted to be there. Her wisdom and understanding were genuinely remarkable. She ‘got it’. She knew her need, and she knew how Calvary was her Lord’s way of meeting that need. She knew grace. She knew God her Father. She was a woman of spirit and she was a woman of the Spirit! Yes, she was a rock to her family, but she knew, without a skerrick of doubt, that all her efforts, indeed her whole life, was anchored on the Rock of all Ages. She knew the Cross was her lodestar, and she never took her eyes off it.

I guess it is no surprise that Anna was one of the great encouragers of my pastoral life. I was strengthened Sunday by Sunday simply because she was there! I have no idea how that worked, but it was true. Sunday by Sunday, usually without words on her part, I was lifted up. And she did that too, when I visited her at home and in the nursing home.

Why am I writing this story. I’m not 100% sure myself. But from the moment I saw that funeral notice I knew, among other things, I wanted to encourage ‘others’ to be an “Anna” in the lives of yet more ‘others’, especially for their children and grandchildren. More than ever the world needs followers of Jesus who embody holy faith and holy love.

Be blessed.


PS The German words translate as follows:

Carried on the wings of an eagle, right into eternity.

These words come from one of Anna’s own prayers:

O that we would learn to love God with all our hearts, with all our soul, and with all our being. Then we could sing:

Carried on the wings of an eagle

over the roaring sea of time,

carried on the wings of an eagle,

right into eternity.


Blogger Ann said...

Thanks for being back...It's good to have the blog again.

A life like Anna's does remind us that we don't have wait for things to be perfect to embrace life. We need to take time for those in our lives daily.

Thanks Fred and Anna.

5:41 AM  

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