Luke gives us tremendous context for the birth and dedication of the Christ child, telling us more about His first days than any other Gospel writer. And one of the characters we come to meet in Luke's story is Anna, a prophetess who lived in the Temple and looked forward to the coming of the promised Messiah.
Anna was, by this point, a very old woman, even by the standards of that day. She had been married for seven years, but her husband died, and then she came to live in the Temple for eighty-four years to prophesy and prepare for God's next move into the world. That puts her, conservatively, at just over 100 years old at the time that Jesus is presented at the Temple, but He is all that she's ever wanted to see.
We don't know what Anna's life looked like in her younger days. We don't know if she was always a prophetess or if God gave her a special ability to know the secret things of His glory after she moved into His holy place to dwell. We do know that she was a young woman when her husband died and for whatever reason, she probably did not have children (if she had had children, they would have been tasked with taking care of her after her husband's death, but we see no mention of this). Relatively speaking (pun intended), she could have attached herself to a kinsman redeemer and gone on living a life in the dust of this world, but she's apparently had enough of that. In the absence of the life that perhaps she had always planned (a husband, kids, a stable household, grandchildren, etc.), there was only one thing in the world she wanted -
To see what God would do next.
And in order to be in a place where she knew she wouldn't miss it, she moved her whole life into His holy place. When the movement of God came afoot, she'd have a front row seat.
Eighty-four years later, her anticipation paid off and she saw the dedication of a bouncing baby boy who bore in His Spirit the very heartbeat of God.
Think about this for a minute. Anna moved into the Temple to see the greatest thing God would ever do, knowing and trusting that it was coming. She didn't know much, if anything, about a Christmas star. She didn't know about a manger. She'd heard whispers, perhaps, but whatever story was happening out there would have to pass through here, and if there was anything to it at all, she knew she was in the right place to see it. Finally. And so Anna, who invested the majority of her life in being a prophetess, in being one who saw beyond what average men and women see, was there to see the circumcision of Jesus and the dedication of Him as both a Jew and a firstborn Son.
This Advent season, let us be like Anna. Let us be a people who anticipate that God is going to move in the world and who position ourselves to be there to see it. Let us know where God is going to pass through, and let us dwell there with eyes wide open and hearts set on hope. However long it takes.
Let us be a people for whom this season does not pass by, but for whom it passes through, a people who come into close contact with the Christ child and see first-hand the glory of the Lord's First-born.