One person in a family, one person in a community, one person in a company, one person in a school, one person in a church; one person can bring hope to the hurting. The idea that one person can make a difference is no new thing. God has always raised up a person among a people to pursue and perform His purpose.
It is the assignment of Adam. It is the ministry of Moses. It is the navigation of Noah. It is the design of David. It is the strategy of Solomon. It is the job of John the Baptist. It is the Cross of our Christ! In all of these, and more than I can mention, God has raised up a unique person in unequaled times to accomplish a heavenly vision.
It was Anna at the altar. Luke singles out a woman the day Joseph and Mary bring the Christ-child to the temple to be presented to Yahweh. Every Jewish family would offer a gift in thanks for the life of a new born male-child and to offer the child to the service of the nation and the temple. This would have followed his eighth day circumcision, a custom for every boy born Hebrew.
“Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess” (2:36). She is the unique person in unequaled times who is about to help accomplish a heavenly vision. Anna is a prophetess. Anna is used by God to live and speak a message prompted by the Holy Spirit. She is inspired to communicate a specific word to a specific people in a specific season.
Her gifting and anointing requires that she spend time with God. She has to be a hearer and a listener. Through fastings and prayers she keeps her spirit fit so she can hear from God clearly, obey God immediately and speak for God powerfully. Praying and fasting are to the spirit what running is to the body and what reading is to the mind. She stayed ready to hear from God. Her spiritual disciplines were impeccable. She “served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (2:37).
What distinguishes Anna? What is it about her life that makes her life so attractive that Luke could not resist telling her story, forever linking it to the Christmas narrative? What sets her apart? What separates her from others who were attending the same temple she was, but do not have their stories in the Holy Canon?
There are a few things about Anna that make her “the one”. Her life is made uncommon because she first of all, will not leave the church. Luke says, “Who did not depart from the temple…” (2:37). This is an utterly amazing contrast and contradiction when you think of the priesthood and its corruption. In the days of Jesus the priesthood was for sell to the highest bidder. It was a racket of titles, positions and offerings. But Anna stayed faithful to her worship. She never left the temple. She was devoted to church life. She was committed to worship God’s way.
Our families and churches need some aged women whom are committed to worship. The temple and its furnishings, or the leaders and their failings, should not distract you from your worship. The unsavory characters in ministry that seek to corrupt the church are still at work, but God has someone strategically and spiritually positioned in the temple who can still hear from God, talk to God and proclaim the plans of God. There was one godly woman at the church making all the difference. Imagine that!
Secondly Anna, is uncommon because she was the one that “gave thanks to the Lord” (2:38). Anna is pure positive. She is a praiser. She is thanking God for everything. Her life has not been easy. She is old. Her husband died when she was young and in the prime of their marriage. She has to sit and see how the priesthood has been reduced to a religious mafia. She still give thanks! This is a winning attitude. Thanking God for the “no matter what” sends a signal to the enemy that you are a winner!
Finally, Anna is uncommon because “she spoke of Him”. Her message is simple and sure, she talks about Jesus. Think of how much gossip, slander, lies, and half-truths could be stopped immediately if Christians would just determine to fill their conversations with a word about Jesus. There are hurting people in the world. Luke calls them, “those who looked for redemption..”. These are the oppressed and the denied. They need a word from God! They need to know hope is here and help is on the way!
The only real redemption is to be purchased by God. Jesus came into the world in order to deliver us from the debt and slavery of sin. This is our redemption! This is our faith!