Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Grace of God in Times of Great Need

And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” And there was a prophetess, Anna . . . and coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:34-36, 38)

Excerpt from “The Good News of Great Joy for All People” – 2010-12-26
As Mary is pondering the “sword” that will “pierce” her “soul” for the cause of the fulfilled promise of God - Luke introduces a second person into our text for today, whose name is “Anna.” Anna was a woman of at least 84 years of age; she was married for seven years before her husband died, and lived the rest of her life in the temple as a widow: "She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” Now Anna was in the temple for the same reason Simeon was. She was “worshiping with fasting and in prayer” while waiting for the Messiah, the Savior to come. And we read that “coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.”

Yet, the deeper reason of why Anna is in this story at this point is revealed by looking at the meaning of Anna’s name. “Anna” means “grace.” Just after Simeon told Mary a “sword” will “pierce” her “soul” for the purpose of fulfilling God’s promise - God sends Anna (“grace”) into her life to thank God for the fulfillment of His promise. Anna (“grace”) could do so because Anna had endured the heart-piercing experience of the loss of her own husband by running to God and clinging to Him with a life of service and devotion. Mary would need the full extent of God’s grace in the days, months and years ahead; God’s grace would be with her, just as Anna (“grace”) had always been in the temple. As with Anna, God’s grace is always with us when we full commit our lives to Him. "Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).
LISTEN TO THE FULL SERMON HERE –