Did You Know? — From “Journey to the Manger,” Paula Gooder

  • “The name Anna is the Greek version of the Hebrew name Hannah.”
  • “She (Anna) did not, like Simeon, live locally and was guided to the temple by the Holy Spirit. Instead she was dedicated and lived there permanently as part of her vocation as prophet.”

The Gospel of Luke 2:36-39 (New Revised Standard Version)

36 There was also a prophet, Anna[a] 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, 37 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. 38 At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child[b] to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.

39 When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. 40 The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him.

Some Thoughts on Today’s Reading Rev. Pam Brokaw, Rochester UMC

Gospel of Luke 2: 36-39 (New Revised Standard Version)

Paula Gooder’s book, Journey to the Manger, takes the reader on an Advent pilgrimage ending with the birth of the baby Jesus. She does this by considering the story told primarily through the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. There are, however, passages from the Gospel of John as well as other Old and New Testament Scripture.

She concludes the four-part book with some observations about how some people recognized who Jesus truly was while others did not. She compares the story of Simeon (Luke 2:25-35) and Anna (Luke 2: 36-39).

Simeon was drawn by the Holy Spirit to the Temple and a meeting with Jesus and his family. Anna, resided in the Temple, leading a faithful life of prayer and service, fasting and preparing for the arrival of the Messiah.

Notes Gooder, the two stories have something to say about why some people readily saw who Jesus was and others did not. The conclusion is that it takes either the Holy Spirit at work or an intentional life of faith and preparation.

Which poses a question for all of us: If Jesus arrived in our world today, would we see who he truly was? Are we ready to recognize him in our midst? The Advent Season beckons us to consider the question. How are we to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit? How are we to prepare? It seems to me there must be an opening of ourselves to the possibility as well as a dedication to study and prayer. Perhaps the Gospel invites us to seek a bit of Simeon and Anna in all of us!

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Pam