Journey to the Manger: Anna

Matt and the kids try to quickly memorize what objects are on the tray.

Matt and the kids try to quickly memorize what objects are on the tray.

As my family continues our Journey to the Manger, we stopped by the Temple and met an old woman named Anna.

At the age of 84, God gave Anna a beautiful gift. Anna had lived in the Temple for decades. She became a widow seven years into her marriage, and spent every waking moment in the Temple from that point, pouring out her heart to the Lord, worshiping Him, and declaring His praises. Out of such a deep intimacy with her Heavenly Father came great sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit. She learned how to pay attention to God’s movement.



So, when a new mother and father entered the Temple one day, cradling their infant son, Anna was ready and waiting for God to speak, like she did every day. This time Anna heard the God of the Universe cry out and coo from by Mary’s loving arms. This elderly lady, so close to Heaven, beheld Heaven’s promise and joy with her own eyes. Right away she broke out in praise and began to witness to everyone around that this child would redeem them all!

Anna spent so much time with God, she was quick to feel His presence and respond. She paid attention. For most of us around the celebration of Christ’s birth, our focus is much less trained. Too often we succumb to the Christmas crazy, running from one store to the next for the perfect gifts, squeezing in parties and school programs and church musicals and family gatherings. We become too busy to receive God’s greatest gift: the presence of His Son.

Today, we put our focus to the test. My husband and kids put their game faces on as I revealed a tray of objects, and they began intensely scanning the items for the next minute. Then, they worked together to recall from memory as many of the items as they could. They impressively remembered 20 out of 26! Jackson explained that he just needed to close his eyes to see the tray and remember what it held.

Maybe the same memory device could also be used in our spiritual lives. We need to spend more time with our eyes closed in prayer to sear God’s promises on our hearts. Anna spent years and years meditating on God’s Word and willingly serving Him. When the time came, Anna was ready to experience the joy of Christ.

This Christmas, that’s what we need most: Jesus.


Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.

Recognizing Jesus

Jackson's temple ornament. He drew Simeon ("S"), Jesus ("J") and Anna ("A") in the temple.

Jackson’s temple ornament. He drew Simeon (“S”), Jesus (“J”) and Anna (“A”) in the temple.

Christmas Countdown Day 20 focused on the temple. After Jesus was eight days old, His parents took Him to the temple to be dedicated to the Lord. While there, two people met the new family and recognized Jesus for who He really was: the Son of God. Simeon held Jesus in his arms and proclaimed that his “eyes have seen Your salvation…a light of revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel.” A prophetess named Anna also met Jesus and began praising God and sharing that the Messiah had arrived to all those she encountered. As we considered Simeon and Anna, we prayed together as a family that we would recognize Jesus this Christmas and look for our Savior to be at work around us, and in our hearts.