Click here for an audio version of this blog post.
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, 37 and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him. – Luke 2:36-40
People identify in many different ways today. Just the other day I was filling out a form which asked: How do identify? The options were “male, female, or other.” The server at a church conference made it known as soon as she found out we were a bunch of pastors that she was in a lesbian relationship. In fact it may have been even before she found out who we were that she self-identified in that way.
We don’t know much about Anna. We know she was a prophetess. But we don’t fully know what that means, and how that would compare to John the Baptizer. We know she was devoted, and regularly and often in the temple. But we know little of in what capacity she was there; though we might surmise that she was there to worship and pray and prophesy. We know she saw the baby Jesus and immediately began to tell everyone about him. So Luke tells us that Anna was a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, and completely devoted to worship by fasting and prayer.
One commentator (David Guzik) says, “Anna was a remarkable woman. As a widow she knew pain and loss but had not become bitter. As an elderly woman she had not lost hope. Perhaps it was because she was a woman of worship and a woman of prayer.”
Diane has a beautiful way in which she self-identifies, “I am a follower of Jesus who worships in a Lutheran community.” I like to make the point – whenever it is true – that I am the oldest one in the room. That was true recently at a pastoral installation I attended. Better I should take a clue from Diane, and say, “I am a servant of Jesus, and I serve in the context of Lutheran congregations.” Better, however, might I be known as a sinner, redeemed by God and, a faithful servant of Jesus, and one who rejoices in the grace of God in Jesus.
How would you be known?