Spotlight On Anna

December 17, 2011
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Isaiah 52:7 – How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!" (NIV)

Perhaps you feel you've heard plenty about the Christmas story. But what do you know about the two often-forgotten characters, Simeon and Anna? Without them, the Christmas message is incomplete. Let's consider Anna:

Luke 2:36-38 – There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to [Mary and Joseph] at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child [Jesus] to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (NIV)

Did you see that! Anna proclaimed the good news! Not to people far away "on the mountain", but to her own people. God's chosen people, Israel, needed to hear it first. After all, the Messiah came first to them.

How did Anna know about the Christ child? We know that she would never have been allowed in the inner courts (for men only) or the Holy of Holies (for a priest once a year). In the Jewish tradition, only males were taught the Law and the Prophets. And many males had indeed been studying it — for centuries. They had searched intently for clues about the coming Messiah. But they couldn't see for looking. So God helped them out — not through an angel or a star, but through an elderly widow: One day a prophetess arose from the shadows of the temple and blurted out the news.

Anna recognized the child. Why? Because she had been prepared by God in her own little sacred space — perhaps an apartment in the temple for widows. She fellowshipped with God. It was her life: She "never left the temple, but worshipped night and day, fasting and praying." In the fullness of time, God opened the door for her ministry. She did not need any pulpit, credentials, or position. God poured out His Spirit on her, and nobody could stop her! Can't you see her shuffling around the temple crying out the news? She was among the first to preach the gospel and to fulfil the prophecy: "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." Anna had beautiful feet!

Anna's impact on the Christmas event is profound. She shifts the focus from the sensational elements to God's grand purposes for humankind. She draws our attention to spiritual realities as disclosed throughout the Scriptures.

Prayer: Lord, every Christmas, we too easily accept the superficial, and so, we miss the deeper joy of Your redemptive plan. Anna inspires us. Like her, may our highest goal be to know You and Your ways — so that we will have "beautiful feet" in our lost and fallen world. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <d.eaton@bmts.com>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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