December 22 - Anna

Monday, December 22, 2008

December 22 - Anna - Luke 2:36-39

Today Anna the prophetess meets the Savior. I find it wonderful that we actually get to know these people who were part of His early life. We find out who her father was (Phanuel), which tribe she was from and that after seven years of marriage, her husband died and she became a widow.

I have spent the last week sorting through old photographs, newspaper articles and selected pieces from my scrapbooks. It's time to get them scanned and saved so that I can eliminate the physical things from my life. My history throughout the years has defined my in so many different ways. When I was in Clarinda, Iowa, I was the granddaughter of Rev. J.L. Greenwood, or the cousin of many that still lived there. I grew up as Frank Greenwood's daughter. Depending on where I go, I might be introduced as Carol or Jim's sister and I'm learning to enjoy being introduced as Matthew's aunt at his college. When I am in Ohio, I am known as Max's wife.

I think it is fascinating that decades after her father would have died, Anna was still known as Phanuel's daughter. I wonder what kind of man he was.

There is a bit of uncertainty about the translation of Luke 2:36 - whether or not she was 84 at the time of the meeting or she possibly could have been widowed for 84 years, which would have made her incredibly old.

In all of the churches I have been in, I remember several much older women - generally widows - who made the church an extension of their family. They would spend hours doing whatever they could just so that they could stay at the church. I will admit, that they were more often than not, busy bodies who stuck their nose in things they had no business bothering with and spent an extraordinary amount of effort being critical and unhelpful. What a blessing someone like Anna would have been in those churches. She worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. (Luke 2:37b)

Luke 2:38 implies that at the moment Simeon was prophesying over the child and His mother, Anna came up to them. She recognized the importance of the child and gave thanks to God. Then, she told everyone about the child. Notice, though that it doesn't say that she told everyone around her, she only told those that were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

I suppose that today we might look at her as a batty old woman, but God put her in place to be able to behold His Son. He ensured that Anna would be remembered throughout time in the Canon of His Word.

The last verse of the passage today (Luke 2:39) has caused some conflict with scholars. Luke implies that Joseph and Mary went directly from Jerusalem to Nazareth. This seems to make no sense when compared to Matthew 2: 13-23 (the Escape to Egypt and Return to Nazareth). Today, all I want to say is that we shouldn't make assumptions regarding timing based on tradition. There is no way that the Magi and the Shepherds were at the Nativity at the same time, no matter what all of our Nativity sets look like.

As I look at my outline, I see that I will be writing about the Escape to Egypt and the Return to Nazareth just after Christmas. I think I'll save my reading and research for those days. There is no easy answer, but there are possible explanations.