The story of Anna as found in Luke 2:22-40 has intrigued me for some years now. Her story resonates with me in marvelous ways. Her devotion and ability to maintain a sense of hope through difficult times is a great reminder of us that if we stay in a close relationship with our Lord and Savior, we too can overcome whatever trials come our way. Below is a monologue I have written based on Scripture and various commentaries. May God bless you in the reading and telling of Anna’s story.
Anna Speaks Out
Good morning! I am so glad that you are here this morning because I have a wonderful story of God’s love to share with you.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am Anna, daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. I am a widow, eighty-four years young. Unfortunately, my husband died after only being married to me for seven years. I do not think I was that bad a wife but I do believe everything worked out exactly as it should, because otherwise I do not know if I would be here with you today.
After my husband died, I could have turned into a bitter woman but instead decided to devote my life to the Lord. It was through my deep devotion to the Lord where I found my peace and purpose in life. For many years, I lived here in the temple, praying and fasting day and night. I am considered a prophet even though it humbles me to say that about myself. I do not know why I am called a prophet, I know of no other woman of my time that bears that title. I can only think that it is due to the great deal of wisdom that I seem to have. I have the ability to see beyond the surface in order to see the silent, veiled revelation of God’s mysterious ways. I believe that God favors us older women, particularly widows because society is not so good at taking care of us, so God watches and speaks to us in special ways. Maybe without husbands to care for, we can spend more time contemplating life and coming to a deeper understanding of what is most important in life and in death.
In my time, I have seen many people come and go, old and young; I have heard their cries and have seen their pain, which makes me an expert on what causes so much human suffering and the desperate search for relief. The sorrow I have seen has not hardened my heart, instead it has made me kinder and sympathetic to others.
I equate my deep devotion to God in the way that I have continued to pray and fast all of these years. I live to serve the Lord and this has given me a great deal of peace and hope. Like my friend Simeon, I have waited quietly to see what God will do next and today I want to share with you one of the most extraordinary days of my life.
For many years, I have been waiting for the promises of God to be fulfilled as written in the scrolls in the Temple. I have patiently waited for the day of liberation of the Jewish people. My friend, Simeon, has been waiting as well. In fact, he said that God had promised him that he would not die until he looked into the face of our Savior. Simeon was a prophet, like me, but it has been said that the Holy Spirit is upon him and speaks to him often.
Now one day, I see a young couple enter holding an infant. I estimate that it had to be about forty days since the infant was born and this coincides with the stories coming out of the Bethlehem over the last month and the appearance of a great star in the skies.
The man was of an expected age, but the girl could not have been more than 16. I later learned that this was Mary and Joseph with their child Jesus.
They were coming in to dedicate their first-born son to the Lord and for the purification according to the Law of Moses (v. 22; cf. Exodus 13:2, 11-16, and Leviticus 12, respectively). You see a woman was considered unclean after giving birth and so had to come with sacrifices 40 days after giving birth to a son (60 days for a daughter) to be made clean once again. They carried with them two pigeons. By this, I knew they were poor because the law calls for a lamb and a pigeon but for those who could not afford to have a lamb, they were allowed to bring another pigeon. This tells me that their child will know what it means to go with out and the true cost of life itself.
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see Simeon rush in. He was not expected that day, but later he would tell me that it was the Holy Spirit who brought him to the Temple that day. I saw him approach the couple and take the baby into his arms. Then this huge smile came across his face and he seemed to be glowing.
It seems that when he looked into the eyes of that baby, he could see deeply into his soul and he knew. Right there he knew that he was looking into the eyes of his Savior.
Simeon immediately knew that his life was now complete for he had seen the light of salvation and held it in his arms. He gave thanks to God and then he began to prophesy about this child.
As I approached, I heard his words and knew in my heart that what he was saying was true. He said that this child would cause many to fall. What he meant is that anyone whose eyes fall upon this amount of goodness in one person will either turn and run from it or embrace it. Therefore, the world would witness both a great rejection and a great acceptance. There will be some who will curse his name and others who will praise it. This may even cause brothers to turn against brothers and sisters against sisters and mothers against fathers.
Because of whom he is, this child will face many enemies and may even lose his life over it. Simeon said all of this to Mary, knowing that she will be the one who cares for him and will see him all the way to the end. It was if he was preparing her for the possibility of heartbreak. Yet, this young woman so small and frail, seemed to have a lot of courage. She stood firm and sure that God would be with her through it all and she quietly pondered all of this in her heart. In spite of all this, he will be the consoler, redeemer and Savior of all people.
I, too, was moved as Simeon was by the events of that day. For while, Simeon was ready to go to his grave, I knew that I need not be silent anymore, and that instead I must speak to all those who have been waiting for liberation to come. For that day has arrived for in for in Bethlehem a child was born, our Savior. I know because I have seen him with my own eyes.
Further, I know this to be true because without saying a word, he has liberated me. I have always been quietly watching but now I have become a public speaker., and have found my passion in the way I am to serve the Lord. If you give him half a chance, he will have the same effect on you and will ignite in you a passion suited to your gifts. Now maybe a number of you will never have the opportunity in this life to see him face to face, as I have. For most of you, you will have to take my word for it and simply believe. Maybe you have already felt the liberating power that Jesus can have on our lives.
If you are wondering where he is now, I do not know. Word has it that the parents have returned to Galilee to begin to raise this miraculous child but others say that they have escaped to Egypt in order to keep the child safe. Regardless of where he is, I know that he will find a way back to us once again.
Thank you for your attention. Now go in peace.
Anna’s story touches me personally. It is one that may not be studied as much as it should but it is remarkable how God had worked in her life. As a widow, she could have turned inward and given up but instead she turned to the Lord. She devoted her life to God and never stopped praying and fasting and praising him for more than fifty, maybe even almost sixty years. If this can happen to Anna, imagine what God can do in our lives, as well. Maybe you already know how powerful this has been in your lives.
May this New Year, bring you much joy and may we look forward to whatever awaits us as people of God.
To God be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
I thank God for you,
Pastor Kathy Nealand