Luke 2:36-38

There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

Let’s not forget about Anna. Simeon gets the “speaking part” in this particular scene, but Anna is also a critical player. The details Luke shares are few but telling. Anna was widowed early and then lived a long and faithful life in service to God in the Temple. And when she saw Jesus she, like Simeon, knew immediately and intuitively that God would redeem the world in and through this child.

But there is one more detail that is easy to miss. Anna praises God, no doubt also surprising Mary and Joseph in her testimony about their son. But then she also tells others. As Luke records, she began to “speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

It is not enough, finally, to praise God; we also need to share the reasons for our praise. Or, to put it another way, our praise finds it completion in testimony. Our thanksgiving reaches its goal in sharing. Anna praises God best by sharing with others the good news she has seen and heard.

This is, however, sharing — not shouting, or threatening, or coercing. Indeed, she seems to focus her energies on those who are already looking for some consolation. And to these folks she simply shares what has been meaningful and comforting and hopeful to her. This is a kind of sharing that any one of us can do.

And it happens throughout Luke’s gospel and particularly by women. Notice that the story thus far has been dominated by strong female characters. When Zechariah fails to believe and is struck mute, Elizabeth steps in, bears the child of promise, receives her young cousins, and testifies to his greatness. The angel comes, not to Joseph as in Matthew’s account, but to Mary who believes, willingly participates, testifies, and praises. And now we have Anna, who after Simeon prophesies takes the matter one step further and shares the good news with all those looking for hope and help.

It’s not that Luke is trying to elevate these women over men, but rather that in a male-dominated world he wants to make good and sure that we see the liberating character of this gospel for all persons – women and men and (as we’ll see as the story progresses) all nationalities, ethnicities, and races. This is a gospel for all. And Anna is one more strong and faithful woman who gives voice to that confession.

Dear God: We give you thanks for Anna, and for all those women before and since who have praised you by sharing the good news of your love and concern for all people. In Jesus’ name, Amen.