May we have eyes to see and ears to hear and wits to understand that beauty is as close as breathing and is crying out to be born within ourselves and in the world.

-Friedrich Buechner


 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 seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped 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.


Anna is the very last character in the Christmas Story. Mary and Joseph have left behind the shepherds and the stable animals, stopping in the temple to fulfill their requirements of their faith. Upon arrival, they meet Simeon the Priest who would perform the circumcision. Simeon is so overwhelmed by the encounter that he breaks into song. His words are recounted in Luke’s Gospel and become the lyrics for an ancient Christian hymn.

Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace,
according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

But, before leaving the temple, Mary and Joseph have one more unexpected meeting with a woman named Anna. She is a prophetess, a widow of “great age” who spends all her time in the temple praying and fasting. Her life seems surprisingly simple, filled not with excitement but rather repetitive religious rituals. On this day, she is doing what she has always done, acting in faithful obedience. And, although it may be simple, Luke wants us to understand that this is no small thing. 

Anna is the only person in the Christmas Story who recognizing God’s work without an announcement or an introduction. The Shepherds were alerted by the angels. Simeon was introduced by the parents. Anna, apparently, simply sensed the work of the Spirit and began to praise God. She sees what so many others in the same setting fail to see. People walked by and even bumped into these young parents carrying the baby but didn’t notice anything important. 

But, Anna sees this precious little baby and begins to praise God. 


During this Christmas season, may we, like Anna, act in faithful obedience and be enabled to see God’s working in our world. May God open our hearts, our minds, and our eyes so that we can see that which others overlook, the miracles all around us that remind us that “God is with Us.” 

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