Luke 2:36-40 (CEV)
36The prophet Anna was also there in the temple. She was the daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher, and she was very old. In her youth she had been married for seven years, but her husband died. 37And now she was eighty-four years old. Night and day she served God in the temple by praying and often going without eating.
38At that time Anna came in and praised God. She spoke about the child Jesus to everyone who hoped for Jerusalem to be set free.
39After Joseph and Mary had done everything that the Law of the Lord commands, they returned home to Nazareth in Galilee. 40The child Jesus grew. He became strong and wise, and God blessed him.
Good Enough For God
Have you ever wondered if you were good enough to serve God? Do you have a list of reasons why you might not measure up?
I feel like no matter what’s on your list, it’s not as long or extensive as the list our next character, Anna, has.
Anna is female in a world where women are physically excluded from anything that happened in any of the inner courts of the temple.
She’s from the tribe of Asher – one of the tribes from the North of Israel who were taken into captivity by the Neo-Assyrian Empire about 722 years before Jesus was born. There’s a lot of history here, but basically her tribal background means that she is going to be judged as inferior.
She’s a widow, and likely doesn’t have any children. Which means back in the day that she would be extraordinarily poor and vulnerable.
And she’s old – she’s 84, which is old even in today’s world, much less back then. And for some unfortunate reason we tend to assume that “old” means “not worth very much”.
And yet …
Anna, we are told, has served God night and day in the temple through prayer and fasting (going without food). This elderly, female, childless widow from an exiled tribe is held up in this story of Jesus as having had an important role to play in serving God in the very temple that her status and reality as a woman keeps her limited to the fringes of.
It’s almost as if this list isn’t really very important to God. It’s almost as if the last and the least might be the first and the greatest. It’s almost as if Anna, with all of her “disqualifications” is still good enough for God.
It’s almost as if the story is about to change, and this woman, who would have been relegated to the lowest status and worth by her society is given the opportunity to be one of only the tiniest handful of people to know at this point that the Messiah has come. She has served God day and night for years, and is now rewarded: she gets to see Jesus and recognize him for who he is and what it means for all of Israel that he has come.Journal Questions:
- Do you have a list of reasons why you or someone else might be ‘disqualified’ from serving God? Or maybe you’ve heard other people’s lists of what ‘disqualifies’ someone? What’s on that list?
- Can you think of a modern-day Anna that you know? Someone who by every account “shouldn’t” be serving God, but is?
- What does it mean that we serve the kind of God who doesn’t seem to care about our qualifications?