And there was a prophetess, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with a husband seven years after her marriage, and then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. And she never left the temple, serving night and day with fastings and prayers. And at that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:22-25, 36-38
I feel so privileged to be a pastor. I have seen the hand of God in such powerful ways through the years. Like the small infant so weak from a heart defect that doctors could do nothing. A prayer for healing and anointing with oil unleashed the unlimited power of God in this baby’s life. She’s now a teenager living for Jesus. Or the carousing, womanizing drinker who prayed to accept Jesus as his savior and Lord…and is experiencing a radical transformation in his life to this day. Or the demonized woman whose satanic power was frightening…who experienced the greater freeing power of Jesus Christ. I could go on and on.It has been such an honor to serve the Lord and His people. I have been in the privileged place to see these things happen.
Anna, the prophetess, was in the place to see God too. She was 84 years old, which was ancient in those days when the average life-span is estimated to have been 52. She lived her life in the temple serving God and serving people. She was a godly woman, living out her faith in the way she could—through prayers and fastings. The nature of what she did with her life indicates a tremendous passion. You do not fast with a casual orientation. You do not serve “night and day” with a mediocre commitment. For close to sixty years she consistently served in the temple. With out a doubt, she saw many God-things in that period of time. But the greatest of all was what happened when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple.
Can you imagine the overwhelming sense of gratitude this woman experienced in that moment? Verse 38 states that “at that very moment she began giving thanks.” Just think about it—this woman served God faithfully for all these years…the God she could not see, touch, hear, or smell. She walked by faith and not by sight. But now, held in arms before her, was God as an infant! The creator of the universe lay helpless and vulnerable in her presence. The same God who met Moses on the mountain, who made the walls of Jericho fall, who demanded holiness of the priest to enter the holy of holies where He resided is now cooing and drooling before her. Talk about surreal! This godly woman did not reason it away, however. She knew God good enough to understand that He can do what He wants…and often does His thing in ways we least expect. Here, in rare form, is the visitation of God. Anna met Jesus.
I love what verse 38 states: “and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.” This old godly woman was re-energized! She had seen God! After looking into the face of the God-child, she could not keep silent. As godly and passionate as she was before this, it was even more so now! She talked about the visitation of God to everyone who would listen…especially to those who were looking for the Redeemer.
When we meet Jesus, we are re-energized. Our passion gets ratcheted up, our purpose is clear, our mission consuming.
Would you like to meet Jesus this Christmas? I mean really meet Him? Beyond all the familiar stories, traditions, church services, Christmas chatter, and personal routines, Jesus longs to meet you in a new, powerful, and personal way. Anna reminds us that it pays to be passionate and attentive to God’s work and presence. She didn’t miss Jesus…and neither will you if you really long to find Him.