CHRISTMAS WITH ANNA
Anna is one of the forgotten individuals in the Christmas account. She is barely mentioned on the outskirts of the famous. Nevertheless, she did get the attention of Luke who must have felt very comfortable in her presence, and so were all the priests and temple servants that worked with her. She was a pearl of a person. Being around her disclosed her nature that coincided with her name Anna or Grace (Lk.2: 36-38).
Luke tells us that Anna was married for seven years and then the rest of her life she served in the Temple. At the time of Jesus’ dedication, she was eighty-four. Some believe that she had been a widow for eight- four years. What matters is how she celebrated the arrival of Jesus. To begin with, her age was not a handicap to be of service to the Lord. She never retired. Even as a young woman, she decided to serve the Lord God rather than another demanding man. Anna must have had seven hard years in her marriage. In the Temple, she met people like Simeon that believed the age of the Messiah was about to come. She too became convinced that she would see God’s anointed, and began to predict His coming. She was being recognized as a prophetess. That alone was an honorable and respected profession for a woman. Godly seers were much in demand in those days.
Anna’s admirable quality was that she could concentrate endlessly on worshipping, praying and fasting. The days were not long enough for her. She spent night and day interceding for her people and begging God to sent the deliverer. She would not give up on her belief that God would answer her prayers. And when Simeon announced that the baby Jesus was the one, she broke out in jubilation. Anna thanked God and spoke to a group that was also looking toward the redemption of Jerusalem. Actually, Anna was the first preacher that spoke publicly about Jesus being the Christ. Simeon spoke quietly and a bit private. Anna was bold and courageous enough to speak of Jesus as being the king of Israel in an environment that was not conducive to a new king. The intelligentsia had too much baggage to become involved in Christmas. Once again, God used a humble and simple woman to identify the promised deliverer.
We have fallen short of Anna’s enthusiasm and understanding for/of Christmas. We have allowed it to become a holiday or a break from the doldrums of an endless struggle with life. We reward each other with gifts and behave as if it is all there is. For Anna, the day of redemption had begun. God’s promise had become real. The Messiah or Immanuel was among the people. Her message was, “Stop looking, He has arrived.” In contrast, our message is “He has departed” or “He is on his way out?” Paul the Apostle hoped that his people would have a second chance and left the impression that the Messiah had not fully come to the Jews (Ro.11: 26-27). “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”
Anna belonged to the remnant of believers and accepted Jesus as God’s redemptive answer (Isa.10: 22). All the others, including us, were/are confronted with Pilate’s question, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Christ?” (Mt.27: 22). Well, what we do shall determine our redemption.