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Wednesday, December 28, 2022
Message summary: As we recognize the comprehensive redemption plan of the Baby that Anna beheld let us wholeheartedly worship and serve Him today.
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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 [Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus] 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).
My (Stephen's) first recollection of a person with the name Anna was my grandpaís older sister whom we all called Aunt Anna. She lived in the tiny town of Harwood, Missouri and although I donít remember much about her, I remember that she was famous for her delicious sugar cookies. Iíve known several other Annas since that time including my cousin Anna Lee, our good friend Anna Ruth, and also other Annas in our area, but Aunt Anna most aligns with the description of Anna in todayís passage, since I only remember her as an older widow in her eighties.
Today we will study the only person named Anna in the Bible. Anna is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Hannah, both of which mean "grace".
Anna was the second of two faithful believers who, along with Simeon, encountered the Messiah after His birth at His consecration in the temple. Anna had been married only seven years before she became a widow. She could have been a bitter person but 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".
From Luke's description it sounds like Anna didn't take a personal day off in her ministerial role at the temple. She must have been a very interesting person! Somehow when I read this description I form a mental image of her as possibly a rather eccentric woman, perhaps with a charismatic sort of personality. Or she might have been a very meek and quiet woman. Over the years I have learned to value the various contributions many types of believers make to the Body of Christ. I'm sure glad we are not all the same!
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 may have also witnessed the exchange that had just taken place with Simeon which was recorded in the previous portion of Scripture as depicted in the image we use today at the top.
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 it relates to our Lordís redemptive work. Like Simeon, it is doubtful that Anna lived to see Christís redemptive work on the Cross.
Today let us, like Anna, also thank God for the gift of His Son and let us 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. As we recognize the comprehensive redemption plan of the Baby that Anna beheld let us wholeheartedly worship and serve Him today.
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we read of the aged widow and prophetess, Anna, who praised You in the temple upon the blessed arrival of the Christ Child. She was satisfied and overjoyed that prophecy was now fulfilled making the future brighter than ever. As Anna met up with the couple holding the Baby, she gave thanks and spoke about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. She is an inspiring example to believers that we need to share the redemption story with all who are without Christ so that they too can thoroughly enjoy the full scope of His redemption. Freely we have received, so now we freely give in the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.
Brooksyneís Note: One of the things I enjoy about the study of Anna is that her 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, 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 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 Christís redemption plan, then and now.
Remembering another Anna: As we were writing about Anna the prophetess and the many other Annas we know personally we also considered Anna Forry, our friend for nearly 22 years since we moved to this area. She was among the first to welcome us into the congregation. Her life story inspired us and her beautiful spirit was a model for all who observed her life. She and her husband were farmers and they invited us to their home for dinner. Not only was it a plenteous spread of delicious food, as is typical when prepared by a farmer's wife, but she did two things I hadn't seen before that evening. She brought out all the warm food on a rolling tray and placed it on the table. After each of us filled our dishes she collected all the serving bowls and placed them back into the oven. After we had emptied our plates she once again brought out the loaded cart so we could have second helpings, just as hot as the first time we filled our plates. I like my food hot so it was an extra step she took to make our food as piping hot and delicious as the first helping. Secondly, after she served us pie for dessert she passed a large bowl of ice cream around the table. She had pre-scooped the ice cream into round balls and all we had to do was use the large serving spoon to scoop out our dip of ice cream. Afterwards it went right back into the freezer until offered the second time around for anyone interested. Anna was quite thoughtful and purposeful in helping others have a wonderful time.
Anna died on December 19th at 92 years of age. Musser, her husband, died several years earlier. We include her obituary because she wrote it before her death which makes for an interesting read even if you didn't know her, though a good number of our readers do. We will share another story in a few weeks about Anna and Musser that really touched our hearts.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Last night we joined our friends Phil and Donna Huber for dinner at Guss's Diner. Phil is the general manager at Audrey's and we see him just about every week but only visit with his wife, Donna, at the annual Christmas banquet. So it was a special delight to accept their invitation to dinner last evening, eat some good food from Gus', our local restaurant, and enjoy good conversation about family, work, and the things of the Lord.
The Amish farms in Lancaster County have lots of buildings including a Dawdy Haus and in many cases host several generations. It is not unusual in the Amish culture for several generations to live together on one property forming strong family ties. Grandparents help with grandchildren and then, as time goes by, roles often reverse and it is the younger generations looking out for the grandparents.
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Stephen & Brooksyne
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLEģ, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
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