She was ancient, maybe more than one hundred years. She was so tiny and hunched over that others were reminded of a frail bird. Long, long ago, she was married for seven years and then he had died. That all seemed like another lifetime, so many decades had passed. She could barely remember his face anymore.
For decades, she had lived at the Temple. She had come there every day to pray, and at some point, she just did not go home. Now, she never left. She stayed in the Court of the Women on the east side of the Temple. There were some storerooms there mostly for musical instruments used in worship, and she had a pallet in one of them. She was not disturbed. Everyone either ignored her or loved her.
Her name was Anna, Hebrew for “grace”, and she served God with fasting and prayers day and night. She cared little for food anymore, prayer was so much more important. Besides, she was so completely devoted to God that at this point she lived more in a spiritual realm than on a physical plain.
From the Women’s Court she could look into the Inner Court where sacrifices were made daily. Anna watched and prayed, because she knew that He would come to the Temple. All of her devotion was preparing her to see that Final Sacrifice – the Lamb of God. She had seen thousands of lambs sacrificed for sin. She had learned patience and perseverance, and a deep understanding of holiness.
Anna was the daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher, whose name refers to the face of God, and she would see God’s face today. She watched them coming up the steps – a girl with a tiny baby and her husband. The girl looked like a child herself to Anna. She looked up, caught her eye, and Anna knew. She had waited a lifetime for this moment. The prayers of all her years were answered. Her years of holiness prepared her to recognize the Holy One. He had come to the Temple – the Lamb. She received the ultimate reward for years of faithful devotion – Anna saw God Incarnate in the arms of his mother.
She was described as a prophetess – a rare distinction for a woman. She was set apart, spiritually pure, this Anna, daughter of Phanuel, the last Old Testament prophet – the one who saw God face to face.
Reflection – How are you preparing yourself to meet God face to face?
- Advent & Mary: Ordained as Prophetess, Priestess, & Queen (prodigalpaul.com)