I hope this month your thoughts are captured by The Christmas Story.
It’s everywhere we look, everything we hear, and I am sure it is the focus of your attention and energies.
A whole month to once again think and contemplate a baby in a manger, God in flesh, miraculous unbelievable happenings, and a long awaited Savior finally appearing on the timeline of ALL time!
This true narrative comes with so many details, interesting characters, and leaves lots of questions. There’s so much to think and wonder about.
At this very moment, in 2020,
Who is your favorite Christmas Story Character?
Let’s take Jesus, Joseph and Mary off the table; of course the story centers there and it demands our focus. But, who else? It seems every year I think about specific people in the story. I want to experience the story from their viewpoint. Why are their names recorded? What was their significant contribution? How do they relate to me? Do they represent me? How do I incorporate their inclusion in the Bible to my spiritual and physical life?
This last week, I’ve thought and rethought about Anna, the prophetess.
Her three verses in the Bible intrigue me. I want to know more. I want to know her. Her life speaks volumes in just three simple verses. My goodness, I want to be like her!
Luke 2:36-38. “And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”
That’s it. That’s all we know. But, WOW, there is a lot in those three little verses. We can practically build a whole movie script around this small appearance on a grand stage.
She wasn’t just in the right place at the right time. She didn’t hedge her bets or leave it to chance. No way! She stationed herself, devoted her life to this place, to her relationship with God. She would not miss “IT”, if IT happened in her lifetime: spending her life beseeching pleading, praying to God for Messiah to come!
She knew the prophesies. God’s Messiah would come to the temple in Jerusalem. She believed it would happen! She believed every word of her faith! She gave her life to it! She was a Prophetess, one of few women given this title in the Bible; the only one in the New Testament.
It is so interesting the details scripture hands us about Anna:
Very few people in the Bible have their tribe listed. She does. Why?
Very few people in the Bible have an age given. She does. Why?
Very few people have a timeline of married years. She does. Why?
Very few people have their father’s name mentioned. She does. Why?
I don’t have all the answers, but here’s what I know.
She was from the tribe of Asher. Asher was a lost tribe from the north of Israel.
“When the northern kingdom was conquered by the Assyrians in 721 BC, the 10 northern tribes, including Asher, were partially dispersed. In time they were assimilated by other peoples and thus disappeared as distinctive units.” (https://www.britannica.com/topic/Asher-Hebrew-tribe)
Her tribe was no longer functioning together, but Luke felt we should know her tribe. I’m still not sure why, but at the least, it authenticates her Jewish roots. I would guess since her ancestors lived in the northern part of Israel, she was not in Jerusalem to live at the family homeplace. She was there for The Temple! Pretty sure that’s safe to assume since she spent her life there, after widowed at a young age.
Yikes of all the people to reveal their age, Luke chose a woman. Guess their social norms were a bit different from ours. The text says she was married for 7 years, then her husband died. The original language could be interpreted as she was 84 years old, or at this point she had been a widow for 84 years. If that is the case, the youngest marrying age was about 14 in those days, add 7 years of marriage; she would at least have been 105 when Jesus arrived in the temple. Either way, it is loudly noted she was a ripe old age and spent almost her whole life in the temple as a prophet. Luke sought to drive this point home, by showing us her life’s timeline. Anna was not a casual worshipper or pray-er. She didn’t flit in and out of the Temple based on her whims or desires. She devoted all of her life to serving God, telling others about Him, and being a living example of one who does so!! She had no other concerns or responsibilities. The Temple was her home and life.
Anna means “grace” or “favor”. Her Dad’s name Phanuel means “the face of God”. We’ve been told many times: names in the Bible have meanings. In those days, names carried a lot of weight. They weren’t given by “popularity”; they were given for meaning.
So, put these two names together: Anna had “grace/favor in seeing the face of God.”
YES, YES SHE DID!!!
SHE GOT TO SEE THAT PRECIOUS LITTLE FACE! WITH HER VERY OWN EYES!!
Do you think she put that together as a child or young adult? Do you think it spurred her faith? Do you think she had a hunch that maybe, just maybe, she’d see the Messiah with her own eyes? Wow, I’d love to know!
Truth is THE second she laid eyes on baby Jesus, she KNEW he was the Messiah!!
She KNEW! She KNEW!!
No questions, no doubts, no restraint. She started proclaiming His presence!! You don’t spend your whole life waiting for something and then not notice it’s appearance. She put herself in the very spot to find it and HE appeared!!
Boy, her heart must have been bursting!! … “I’ve spent my whole life prophesying, begging and conversing to God about the possibility of this moment and it appears right before my eyes and in my arms!!” Literally Heaven on Earth!
If I were her, I’d have been a blubbering idiot, reduced to a puddle of tears and praise!
My eyes tear up thinking about it … Dear sweet Anna, a humble faithful servant. Ignored by many, I’m sure, but SO SIGNIFICANT in the Biblical narrative, Jesus appearing as the Messiah. It was revealed to her with a hand full of others.
I could go on, but it’s your turn ….
At this very moment, in 2020, who is your favorite Christmas Story Character?
Who is capturing your attention?
Can’t wait to hear!!!
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You’ve got till Friday, Dec. 18th at 10 pm to enter.
(I’ve extended it a few days due to some media mess ups.)
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A Basketfull of homemade Christmas Decor and Treats; From My House to Yours!
Merry Thoughts of Anna,
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