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Friday, December 11, 2009
(Photo by Howard J. Blichfeldt)
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"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 worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:36-38).
Today we will study the only Anna in the Bible. Anna is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Hannah, both of which mean grace.
My first recollection of a person with the name Anna was my grandpa's older sister whom we all called Aunt Anna. She lived in tiny Harwood Missouri and although I don't remember much about her I recall to this day that she made delicious sugar cookies that were very much enjoyed by those privileged to receive them. I've met several other Anna's since that time including our Amish friend Anna Ruth, but my Aunt Anna best fits the description of the Anna in today's passage, since I only remember her as an older widow in her eighties!
Anna, from the Biblical setting, was the second of the faithful believers who, like Simeon, encountered the infant Messiah at the time of His consecration in the temple. Married only seven years she then became a widow and never remarried. Luke described Anna as an 84 year old prophetess who fully dedicated her life to God, who "never left the temple, but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying." She must have been an interesting person! Somehow when I read this description I form a mental image of her as possibly a rather eccentric woman, perhaps a charismatic sort of personality. Over the years I have learned to value the contribution this type of believer makes to the Body of Christ.
She first "gave thanks to God" as she encountered the holy family. Apparently she was in such rich communion with God that she knew this was no ordinary family or baby. She also may have witnessed the exchange that had just taken place with Simeon that is recorded in the previous portion of Scripture.
She then "spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem." The specific content of her words are not recorded for us, but are related to our Lord's redemptive work. Like Simeon, it is very doubtful that Anna lived to see Christ's redemptive work on the Cross.
Today let us also thank God for the gift of His Son and let us also faithfully speak "about the child" who became the Savior of the world. As we focus on the wonder of the Christmas story, remember, this Baby was born to die for our sins. Let us recognize the full redemptive scope of the mission of the baby that Anna encountered and wholeheartedly worship and serve Him today.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we read of Simeon and Anna who praised You in the temple for the blessings of the Christ Child. We also praise You in the House of the Lord and in heaven and earth for the past, present and future blessings that we enjoy through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is our Peace who has broken down every wall and someday we'll thoroughly enjoy the future setting of the lion laying down right beside the lamb because of Christ's redemptive power. We'll also see every tribe and tongue united under one Leader and we will know and thoroughly enjoy the full scope of Christ's redemption. In Your time, Lord, in Your time You will bring these marvelous blessings to pass but even now we thank You for the countless blessings we enjoy at the present.
Brooksyne's Note: One of the things I enjoy about the study of Simeon and Anna is that their story reminds me of how people of all ages were touched by the Christmas story. From the tiny Baby in the manger, the young virgin and her youthful husband, the shepherds and wisemen representing men of various ages, all the way to Elizabeth and Zechariah who were beyond child bearing years, and then Anna and Simeon who were nearing the century mark. The angels bearing the good news also represented the eternal (ageless) aspect of our miraculous Christmas story. How wonderful that people of all ages, the very young and the very old, are all included in the full scope of Christ's redemption plan.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)
Beginning tonight Brooksyne will be directing a choir in the "Hope Has Hands" Christmas musical and will do so through Sunday evening so it is a very busy time for us (mostly her!) I have a narration role in the musical as Simeon. Yesterday our friend Mike Book stopped by to rehearse a duet with Brooksyne they are singing together titled, "The Lord Has Been Kind" Audio It's a song written as though Anna and Simeon are singing it!
"The Twelve Voices of Christmas" In the course of my study for this series I found this interesting resource by Back To The Bible. It is a dramatization of the main characters in the Christmas story
Here's the overview page.
Here's the message about Simeon: Text Dramatic audio reading
Today's photo of the Lone Sentinel tree was taken in Michigan by Howard J. Blichfeldt and is used with his permission. I have never personally met Howard but we were introduced online through a mutual friend. Howard desires to honor the Lord through his photography. He has a website with samplings of his photos and this statement concerning his faith: "Nature has been for me a conduit to the One who makes everything possible. Whether I am in the wilderness or in my living room, when I contemplate the awesome mysteries of nature and the universe, the existence of God no longer seems so mysterious. And, when I contemplate Jesus, His sacrifice for us and all that He offers, my purpose in life is no longer so mysterious. My goal in aligning God’s word with my photography is to create a palpable daily reminder of how it is He should under gird our lives. I find the integration of God’s word with God’s world to be an inspiring affirmation of who He is and how we should live. May it be that way for you."
His website is here.
I especially enjoy his "Inspirationals" collection
With the photo used in today's message he places this appropriate thought: "and in our prayerful solitude, He whispered, "Be still and know I am God."
It is our desire to share online resources that may be a blessing to families and churches during this Christmas season. We will continue to post these resources through Christmas Day. As we find additional material that we believe will be a blessing we will add it to this list as well.
Christmas Memories Here's a collection of Christmas memories sent in by daily encouragement readers several years ago, along with an opportunity to share your own story.
"In Remembrance of Me" pdf This is a passion-filled Scripture reading for two adults. Brooksyne and I have used this reading with great receptivity during Christmas Eve services many years. We suggest, if possible, a musical background as the message is read. It is also a great lead-in to a Communion service. It should be thoroughly practiced and read with great feeling.
"When Christ Was Born" pdf This is an adaptation to the tune of "How Great Thou Art". It's a great song to sing as a congregation since most are familiar with the tune.
Responsive Christmas Scripture readings for church or family:
John 1:1-18 pdf
"O Come Let Us Adore Him" pdf
My First Christmas In Heaven This is a blessed reminder for all who lost a loved one this year. This is the poem that Brooksyne read and wrote about in this message.
Christmas Knowledge Test
We have also posted two Christmas carol quizzes here (scroll down).
Are you Christmas shopping online?
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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