December 31, 2023: Good News

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First Sunday after Christmas Day

Good News

The Gospel text for today centers on the presentation of Jesus in the temple. Watching are two elderly onlookers, Simeon and Anna. Simeon was promised by God through the Holy Spirit he would see the Lord’s Messiah before he would see death. Anna was a prophetess who lived in the temple.

Simeon is the one with whom we are most familiar. Upon seeing Jesus, he knew he was looking at the Messiah and said, “Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation.” But Anna? Who is Anna? Why is Anna present?

Although her father, Phanuel, is mentioned, there is no other information. We’re told Anna is of the tribe of Asher, one of the sons of Jacob, so she would know of the prophecies. This is the only time Anna is mentioned, so why is Anna mentioned at all?

Simeon talks to Jesus’ mother and shares the prophecy that Jesus will cause the fall and rise of many in Israel, and she will know pain because he is the Messiah. But Anna, who lived in the temple and worshiped through fasting and prayer, praised God and shared with the people who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem, that the Messiah had arrived.

There is an elderly woman, Anna, at Jesus’ presentation, announcing the redemption of Jerusalem, and a younger woman, Mary Magdalene, at the tomb, announcing the resurrection of the same Jesus. Perhaps it was the wisdom gained with years of faithfulness for Anna and the years of witness and experience for Mary that announced the Messiah to the world.

As we enter a new year, may you also announce the Good News of the Messiah.

Dennis Rohn, retired pastor
New Philadelphia, Ohio