Scripture reading: Luke 2:36–38
In verses 36 and 37 of this small passage about Anna, she is described, and in verse 38 she takes on the active role of the prophet.
Luke identifies Anna not only as a prophet but also as a woman of the tribe of Asher, one of the northern peoples. She is old and a long-time widow, having spent only seven years of her life as a married woman. But what is more important, she is a well-known figure at the temple. The Greek word translated as “never left” identifies her as one who was customarily in the temple. Her activities there are described as worshiping with fasting and prayer, day and night. Whatever her official capacity (perhaps none), her acts of devotion are familiar to temple-goers.
Luke notes that her thanksgiving and preaching to those expecting the redemption of Jerusalem take place at that moment when the child is blessed by Simeon. By implication, then, her words become yet another declaration that this child is the hope of salvation for Israel. We notice two things: here is a clear example of a woman preaching, and her audience is the people—like Simeon—who are actively expecting the redemption of Jerusalem.
Enduring God, God of patience, God over the long haul:
We confess that we lack the faithfulness of Anna.
We lack her stamina, her persistence,
her ability to keep showing up,
to inhabit and embody hope,
day after day, and night after night.
Grant us, we plead, a measure of her spirit, a measure of her courage,
a measure of her sure light in the night of despair,
that we too may witness the rise of your redemption,
the dawn of your love, the morning of your glory,
the balm of Gilead, to make the wounded whole.
In the name of the blessed child to whom Anna bore witness, Amen.