Daily Devotion for January 2, 2011
Ninth Day of Christmas
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Prayer for the Morning
Heavenly Lord, you have brought me to the beginning of a new day. As the world is renewed fresh and clean, so I ask you to renew my heart with your strength and purpose. Forgive me the errors of yesterday and bless me to walk closer in your way today. This is the day I begin my life anew; shine through me so that every person I meet may feel your presence in my soul. Take my hand, precious Lord, for I cannot make it by myself. Through Christ I pray and live,
Prayer for Family and Friends
Blessed are You, loving Father, For all your gifts to us. Blessed are You for giving us family and friends To be with us in times of joy and sorrow, To help us in days of need, And to rejoice with us in moments of celebration.
Father, We praise You for Your Son Jesus, Who knew the happiness of family and friends, And in the love of Your Holy Spirit. Blessed are you for ever and ever.
The Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this day and evermore.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works.
Men shall speak of the might of Your awesome acts, And I will declare Your greatness.
They shall utter the memory of Your great goodness, And shall sing of Your righteousness.
Luke 2:22-24, 36-40
Anna Bears Witness to the Redeemer
Now when the days of Mary's purification according to the law of Moses were completed, they brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every male who opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, “A pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”
Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Notes on the Scripture
The details of Anna's life are not completely clear. She would normally have been betrothed before she was 14 (twelve and a half was common), but marriage as we know it, with the parties living and sleeping together, would usually occur at least a year after the betrothal. It is a good guess that she became fully married at age 14 or 15. So what this passage means is that she was widowed at age 21 (approximately).
The verse does not specify whether she was 84 years old, or had been a widow for 84 years, which would make her 105. You could fairly argue either age. It was not impossible for a woman to live to 105; there are known instances of people living active lives at that age in parts of the world little different from Roman Israel.
But the important point is that she had lived for a very long time like a medieval nun, cloistered in the Temple, devoted entirely to worship. She had strong spiritual credentials; she was a proven holy woman.
Why is this passage even worth recounting? It would have been much more important to the Jews of the day than it is to us. In important cases, such as murder, a court decision would only be given on the testimony of "two or three witnesses". (Deut. 19:15) Thus, along with Simeon, two people have borne witness to Jesus' holiness when he was brought to the Temple for his birth sacrifice.
Luke is trying to prove that Jesus was the Messiah, ordained before his birth. Anna's testimony is less compelling than Simeon's, but it was important enough for Luke to have included it.