January 8 | Luke 2:36-38

Praise1-BSo here’s a peculiar passage, one unique to Luke. We get this great story (which is slowly becoming one of my favorites) of Simeon and his great, profound, beautiful, affirming, and piercing words, and then Luke moves to this woman called Anna. We don’t get much of her, nor do we even get any actual words from her. She is merely described. And who is she? All we know is that she was a prophet. And there she is, in the temple, and in fact “she never left the temple”. Really? Never? Was this some sort of hunger strike or sit-in? Maybe. Maybe this is the first sit-in. But why is she there? She’s there to fast and to pray. This is what you do when mourning and repenting. Anna is essentially “sitting-in” in the temple entirely focused on praying for the restoration of Israel. Much in the same way that we might sit-in at The Capital in hopes of some kind of socio-political change, Anna is holding out for a reformation of the nation and people of Israel.

And here it is.

Simeon says that he has seen the Lord’s salvation, and at this Anna stops praying, she comes up to the holy family, sees the child for herself, and her fasting and praying turns to praising and testifying. Restoration has come. And Anna’s response is what all of our responses should be: Praise and testimony. This is why we sing on the Sunday after Christmas. Praise (that is, a rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic expression of gratitude to God) is what is in order upon “seeing salvation”. And so we sing. But not only do we sing, we also testify. We tell the story. The prophet Anna has been steeped in fasting and praying for the restoration of Israel, and now that it’s here, she testifies to it. To “all who were looking for the redemption of Israel” she began to “speak about the child”. That is, to anyone seeking hope for new and better days, she talked about the Christ child.

This is important for all of us to remember: In Jesus there is hope. This is not to say that Jesus waves some magic wand over our problems and fixes them, but he does breed hope. In him is hope. For any who are in desperation, who need hope, it is there in Jesus. His life, his words, his very being, his light shine hope on to our world. Do you need hope? Gaze upon him. Imagine him. Read about him in the Gospels. Awaken to his presence in your life. He is there. He is peace. And he is hope. Praise be to God.

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