“Now will I praise godly people, our ancestors. Some of them left behind a name… but of others there is no memory.” – Ecclesiasticus 44:1, 7-9
If early Christians in the East hadn’t believed that scripture was about people just like them, they wouldn’t have insisted that Jesus, who they knew had a mother, should also have a grandmother, and invented one for him, St. Anne. And if they hadn’t invented St. Anne, the Protoevangelium of James (c. 150) wouldn’t have mentioned her in stories that made her beloved. And if she hadn’t been beloved, no churches would’ve been named for her where women could pray to conceive children, even though they knew Christ was their sole intercessor, but what did he know about conception? And if there hadn’t been any St. Anne’s churches, Western traders and pilgrims wouldn’t have discovered her and introduced her devotion into Europe, and Latin Christians wouldn’t have routinely relied on her for everything from safety in childbirth to safety in storms. And if they hadn’t routinely relied on her, a young Martin Luther wouldn’t have cried out to her in a fusillade of lightning, nor become a monk, which is what he vowed he’d do if he lived, and he did. And if he hadn’t kept his vow and become a monk, he wouldn’t have studied the Bible. And if he hadn’t studied the Bible, he wouldn’t have learned the forgotten truth that it’s grace that saves us, and the Reformation wouldn’t have been ignited. And if the Reformation hadn’t been ignited, you wouldn’t be serving on your Protestant church’s board of deacons for a three-year term, or voting the budget at annual meeting.So even if you don’t think much of saints, be grateful to this one, and wish the good, if apocryphal, St. Anne a happy feast day today, July 26.
St. Anne, edify us with your faithfulness, even if we made you up. Amen.
Mary Luti is Interim Senior Pastor, Wellesley Village Church, Wellesley, Massachusetts.