Do you remember the story of Simeon and Anna in Luke 2? Anna was an 84-year-old widow who lived in the Temple in Jerusalem. Why did she stay at the Temple? She was DESTITUTE. She was alone, according to 2:37.
When her husband died, Anna should have been redeemed by one of her husband’s brothers. But either no brother-in-law existed or no relative on her husband’s side chose to redeem her. Unlike Ruth who was redeemed by Boaz, Anna had no kinsman redeemer.
To make things worse, Anna likely had no children to take on responsibility to care for her. She may have been barren. She had been married for seven years with no children? The natural assumption would have been that she was barren like Zecharias’ wife Elizabeth who was also old with no children. Barrenness was considered a curse from God, not a blessing.
So Anna became a ward of the Temple, remaining there not in bitterness but in prayer and fasting.
Into this circumstance, on an ordinary day, Anna meets Mary and Joseph at the Temple. Instead of seeing the young mother with her newborn baby and feeling envy, Anna welcomes Mary and her child. Anna overflows with joy over a birth that she herself had never been able to experience.
Anna was a woman without a redeemer. Yet sixty long years later, she found her Redeemer, the redemption of all Israel!
As this new year begins, may we too set aside grief, bitterness and envy. Let’s replace those negative emotions with joy in the faithful fulfillment of God’s promise of a Redeemer.