|“Coming up to them at that very moment, |
she [Anna] gave thanks to God and spoke
about the child to all who were looking
forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
The Bible only mentions her once, but the memory of her lives through the ages. Dr. Luke says Anna was a Prophetess. But, some have said she may not have foretold the future like Simeon did at the same meeting with Mary, Joseph and Baby Jesus—they had come to Jerusalem, to the temple, to fulfill the requirements of the law to present Jesus to the Lord with an offering for sacrifice.
Anna, whether she foretold the future or not, certainly knew her way around the temple and the Scriptures of the Old Testament. Luke speaks of her love for the place where the Holy of Holies resided and where pilgrims from all over Israel came several times a year for the Jewish festivals. He tells that this octogenarian never left the temple but worshiped day and night.
Anna must have enjoyed special favors from the priests in order to live within the temple walls along with other temple servants. No doubt she had plenty to share about her knowledge of the sacred texts.
Of one thing I am fully persuaded. Anna not only knew the text of Psalm 122, she actually lived it!
I rejoiced with those who said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
2 Our feet are standing
in your gates, Jerusalem.
3 Jerusalem is built like a city
that is closely compacted together.
4 That is where the tribes go up—
the tribes of the Lord—
to praise the name of the Lord
according to the statute given to Israel.
5 There stand the thrones for judgment,
the thrones of the house of David.
6 Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
“May those who love you be secure.
7 May there be peace within your walls
and security within your citadels.”
8 For the sake of my family and friends,
I will say, “Peace be within you.”
9 For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
I will seek your prosperity.
Anna watched the tribes “go up” to Jerusalem, year after year. Perhaps on former journeys, Mary and Joseph had even seen this old woman in the temple.
She rejoiced over this Holy City, praised God for it, and prayed for its peace, just as the Psalmist instructs.
Anna saw Jesus as the Hope for her city, her temple, her people, and her world. She had given her life in devotion to that Hope. She spent it there in the temple serving the Lord.
I suppose the nuns of the Roman Catholic church could be likened to Anna in their life-long devotion to service. But, I’m thinking that Protestant women, too, can dedicate themselves to the Lord in service to their church in this modern age.
I challenge myself and you, my Christian sisters, to make a vow like Anna before God that, in the new year of 2014, we will dedicate ourselves to the study of the Scriptures, to prayer, and to the work of God through the church.
God expects us, as serious disciples, to give more than a single hour of time in worship each week. He wants us, as much as it is possible, to give our lives, like He did, to the work of His Kingdom through the church.
We should love Him and His church. We should serve Christ’s church with a heart like Anna’s—even to our eighty-fourth year!