The Bible tells us that the first Christmas was experienced by the least-known, the lowly or the most unlikely of people—the shepherds; the 3 non-Jewish wise men; Mary and Joseph; and someone whose name is hardly mentioned in Christmas celebrations. In fact, this someone was not even there when Christ was born; yet, the wonder of Christmas came on her, and her life would become a testimony to God—She was Anna, a prophetess.
What else do we know about Anna besides her being a prophetess? Although Luke uses only two verses (Lk. 2:36-37) to describe her, they tell us pretty much about everything we need to know about her. Her response (v.38) to Simeon’s declaration about Baby Jesus (vv.28-32) tells us what Christmas is all about.
Anna’s husband died after only seven years into their marriage. We are not told how old Anna was when she got married. In those days, it was the custom for girls to be betrothed by their parents, and to marry at a very young age. Luke tells us that Anna was 84 years of age at this time, so that means she had been a widow for over five decades.
In those days, it was tough being a woman, let alone being a widow—she had no socio-economic status; no one to be her voice; and no one to be the advocate of her needs. So, by the time Anna was 84, she was alone, with no family to care for her. Luke, however, tells us that she was a prophetess, which means she had a close relationship with God. She was respected as one who communicated the truth of God to God’s people. Here was someone who refused to let her life be ruled by the pains or wounds of her past. Her past did not over-shadow her present. Instead, she had learnt and found hope in God, and she lived for Him. When she got up in the morning, she would posture herself before God in the temple, and went about faithfully doing the work that God gave to her. She had waited patiently for God to show up, and He did, in the Infant, Jesus Christ.
Brothers and sisters-in-Christ, whenever Christmas arrives, the year is coming to an end, and we are on the threshold of a new year. For some of us, it has been a good year, a year filled with blessings. Praise God for that! For others, it has not been quite a good year. It may have been a year filled with heartaches, disappointments, broken dreams, unfulfilled wishes or griefs. No matter how this year has been for us, let us resolve at this Christmas, to be like Anna; to be in the presence of God day and night in worship and prayer, and to be in fellowship with God’s people.
Like Anna, let us understand what the heart of Christmas is, which is in what Jesus has said—He came to save, forgive and heal us of everything that was in the past that is still hurting today, and to make us whole. For that to take place, we must open our hearts and invite Jesus to heal us, and to make ourselves available to God for Him to use us. God is not looking for a superstar but for a surrendered heart. God is not looking for exceptional ability but for people with exceptional availability.