Lenten Greetings and Blessings!
When you read this, I'll be on my way home from a week's vacation in Paris and London, a trip sponsored by my husband's company. And Dave and I will have "done" the Chunnel for our first time, plus much more. Will you see some of our trip in my WIP? Of course. . .
We'll have "done" the Louvre for our second time. This time, I'll have focused on the Louvre's Last Supper paintings, which may be titled something else (according to my research). Why those paintings? For a decade now, I've been writing the memoir-like stories of men, women and children disciples who were likely at Jesus' last Passover Seder family meal, likely held in the hall of a wealthy home that could hold more than 200 people.
I've been interested in Jesus' followers, especially the "girls"/women and children, ever since I was a young girl myself growing up in China with my missionary parents and grandparents. You can read more about that in my book, Women of the Last Supper: We Were There Too.
The stories of Jesus' disciples that I've written have been portrayed nearly every year for a decade in "my" church. (See the photo above for this year's disciples, missing several.) First I wrote the twelve men's stories, then twelve women's stories, and now I'm writing six children's stories. This year my new story is "Anne," Jesus' younger sister who is mentioned in the Gospels, although not named like their four brothers are (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3).
I share "Anne's" story with you today, and trust it will help prepare your heart for the glory of Easter. Are my viewpoints controversial? You bet! But they are extensively researched, both Biblically and historically. And I feel called by God to share this perspective whenever possible.
A BLESSED SISTER: “ANNE”
I am Jesus’ younger sister, “Anne.”I was named for our maternal grandmother, whose name is known from Christian tradition. My sister and I and our four other brothers, James, Joses, Judas and Simon, are mentioned several times in the New Testament, but most people don’t know much about us.
As you might guess, my siblings and I dearly loved our wonderful oldest brother, Jesus. Although my brothers waited until after Jesus’ ascension to heaven to become his disciples, my sister and I eagerly became two of his first followers, along with our beloved Mother Mary. So, of course, we were there for Jesus’ last Passover, that special meal that would become known as the Last Supper and commemorated for two thousand years by Christians, like you.
My Mother Mary and her sister Salome, my aunt, were blessed sisters because of how they were related to Jesus. But I, too, was a blessed sister, because I was one of Jesus’ younger sisters.
It was so awesome to grow up with him as my older brother. Perhaps you have heard that some Biblical scholars think my siblings and I were really Jesus’ cousins or Joseph’s children by another wife. But if that were so, why didn’t the Gospels call us his cousins, or tell about Joseph’s other wife? And why were my brothers repeatedly named in the New Testament and called Jesus’ brothers, even by the townspeople of Nazareth? Thankfully, many theologians affirm we were his siblings, Mary's other children. And I’m eager to share with you just a bit what it was like to be Jesus’ sister.
Do you have a brother who can fix anything? My brother Jesus could. He could even fix things and animals and people that nobody else could. How do you suppose our Mother Mary knew he could turn water into wine for that wedding feast in Cana? We, his family, had already experienced many times his special powers from Yahweh. He could perform miracles like the prophets in our Torah. But he always told us not to tell anyone.
When I was little, in the evenings Jesus used to lift me to his lap and tell me stories about how much Yahweh loved me. Of course, other children and teenagers gathered around us as we sat on the stone bench in the cool shade of the olive trees behind our home. Sometimes he carved little toys for us from scraps of wood from our family’s shop.
I’m sure you know we Jews loved to sing and dance, and my brother Jesus was no exception. He had a beautiful voice, and a special way of clapping his hands and tapping his feet. He and our other brothers often sang Psalms together in harmony. My other brothers sometimes forgot the words, but Jesus never did. He was the one who led the singing during our Passover Seder celebrations each year. Our relatives and friends used to say Jesus had the most melodious voice they’d ever heard. They said he sang like an angel. They were right! When I close my eyes, I can still hear him singing my favorite song, Psalm 23.
I was one of those who watched Jesus ascend to heaven a short while after his cruel crucifixion and resurrection. Watching him disappear into the clouds was a glorious and exciting ending to his time here on earth.
Yes, I was an ordinary sister transformed by my extraordinary brother. You, too, can experience this transformation, and live or die for the glory of God.
Easter Joys and Blessings, Millie Samuelson :-)