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December 18

Luke 2:36– 40

36 There was also a prophetess, Anna, a daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was well along in years, having lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and was a widow for 84 years. She did not leave the temple complex, serving God night and day with fasting and prayers. 38 At that very moment, Lit very hour she came up and began to thank God and to speak about Him to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. 39 When they had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.

Anna’s Testimony and the Return to Nazareth

by Val Harvey

Only Luke acquaints us with the next person involved in this very special dedication event, a woman who also recognized the promised Messiah. She was introduced as Anna, a name that means “grace.” She was an old prophetess, divinely inspired to make God’s will known to others. Her marriage lasted only seven years and she was now an eighty-four year old widow who had resided most of her long life as an attendant in the temple.

Because she was at the right place at the right time and was sensitive to God’s Holy Spirit, Anna was able to be in on this special event. Imagine how she felt as she watched her years of waiting finally rewarded. Like Simeon, Anna was ready for the Savior of the world to come. She saw in Jesus God’s promise of redemption for all people and so gave testimony to it. She thanked God for Him, and proclaimed to everyone her hope for the redemption of Jerusalem.

These two believers, Simeon and Anna, are just two examples of how God includes everyone in His gospel story. Remember the unlikely shepherds? Would He include you a special way to tell His message of hope to the world?

We believers dislike the commercialization of Christmas. However, you can recall the beauty and power of the story of Christ’s birth. This fact is what most Christians want to see and hear.

Occasionally a believer needs to receive a fresh glimpse of the baby Jesus as Christ the Lord of life. Use this study time to evaluate your personal surrender to Him. Consider what response God expects from us as a result of His giving us His Son.

Praxis

  1. Determine ways to capture the spiritual significance of Christmas in your family circle. Our family baked cupcakes, including a candle, for Jesus’ birthday and placed them at each table setting. Before the cakes were eaten, each family member shared why Jesus’ birth was so important to them.
  2. How can the external trappings of Christmas cloud the spiritual realities? Our family always focuses on the manger setting for our Christmas decorations. One year Jordan, our granddaughter, wanted to bring baby Jesus into the house at night so He wouldn’t get cold out in the yard.
  3. Another family memory for our Christmas is for each person to select someone from the Scriptures to introduce to the family during our Christmas morning worship time. Simple costumes were provided. We still talk about those fun times.
  4. When did the true meaning of Christmas become real to you?