Anna The Prophetess: People I Long To Hug In Heaven

Part VII: Anna The Prophetess

In honor of Christmas, I feel it appropriate to write today about someone involved in the biblical account of Jesus’s birth. Simeon and Anna both strike me as amazing people who often get overlooked because we focus so much on the traditional “Nativity” Characters: Mary, Joseph, the Angels, the Shepherds, and the Wise Men. Since Anna gets only three verses in Luke 2, and hence could be even more forgotten, I feel like she deserves the nod. Here are those verses about Anna in their entirety:

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, She gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

Luke 2:36-38

There’s nothing mysterious or confusing about why Anna is such an appealing character. Anyone who dedicates themselves to that level of piety for that long deserves our respect. I’ve been a Christian for 25 years and a pastor for 21. Praying is hard. Fasting is harder. Worshipping “day and night” may be the hardest1. Yet in just around 75 words, these are the main things The Holy Spirit inspires Luke to tell all Christians for all time about Anna.

That and the fact she saw Jesus when Mary and Joseph faithfully obeyed their law and took him to be consecrated at the temple. And the fact she got to interact with infant Jesus is such a blessing. If anyone deserved that, Anna did.

Luke probably has the most memorable “Christmas” chapters in the Bible, but we do well not to stop reading at 2:20, after the shepherds. Because Simeon and Anna’s roles are powerful.

I imagine that in the decades Anna spent giving over her entire widowed life to glorify God in his holy temple, she had some long seasons filled with menial, tedious, mundane, monotonous service. And yet, because she was faithful, one day she got to experience the exact opposite of that. Anna beheld the Creator of the entire universe and Savior of the world with his tiny hands and feet, unable to talk or walk, as helpless and precious as a human ever is. I weep thinking about her reaction.

Because what does Anna do first? She thanks God. Man, what an example! I long for that to be my reaction in the trivial and daily, but also in the big and exciting. Especially with things involving Jesus.

And what does Anna do second? She tells everyone in the vicinity about this Jesus. About this baby, and what he would come to be. The most important and magnificent message in the history of time. May we all do that all the time, but especially at Christmas. This is the example of those humble shepherds, as has been preached countless times in churches for 2,000 years. It is the example of humble Anna as well.

I imagine there is a vast army of Christians from all times and all cultures who knew widows who were extremely faithful to their churches. Who were prayer warriors and were quick to testify about Jesus. Nearly every church I have served in has had at least a few and sometimes more than a few elderly women like that. Anna was the quintessential fiercely dedicated church widow.

And for that reason, I can’t wait to hug her when I get to Heaven.

  1. This reminds me of both Psalm 88:1, which is a person crying out to God in desperation, and Luke 18:7, which is Jesus teaching us to cry out to God in desperation.
Gowdy Cannon

Gowdy Cannon

I am currently the pastor of Bear Point FWB Church in Sesser, IL. I previously served for 17 years as the associate bilingual pastor at Northwest Community Church in Chicago. My wife, Kayla, and I have been married over 8 years and have a 4-year-old son, Liam Erasmus, and a baby, Bo Tyndale. I have been a student at Welch College in Nashville and at Moody Theological Seminary in Chicago. I love The USC (the real one in SC, not the other one in CA), Seinfeld, John 3:30, Chick-fil-A, Dumb and Dumber, the book of Job, preaching and teaching, and arguing about sports.

One thought on “Anna The Prophetess: People I Long To Hug In Heaven

  • December 25, 2023 at 3:09 pm

    I love it! Anna is one of those “Invisibles” we can learn so much from. I can’t wait to talk with her in eternity.


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