“Two Annas, One Redeemer” (Luke 2:22-38)

Funeral Service for Anna Skaggs
Thursday, December 24, 2009

“Two Annas, One Redeemer” (Luke 2:22-38)

Today I want to talk to you about an eighty-four-year-old woman named Anna, who loved to go to church and who found her Redeemer in the baby born at Christmas, Jesus Christ. Actually, today I want to talk to you about two eighty-four-year-old women named Anna, both of whom loved to go to church and both of whom found their Redeemer in the baby born at Christmas, Jesus Christ. One of these women is the Anna we meet in our text. The other is the woman we miss so dearly today, our beloved sister, friend, wife, mother, and grandmother, Anna Skaggs. “Two Annas, One Redeemer.”

Let’s start with the Anna in our text. Yes, she was eighty-four, and yes, she loved to go to church. The church back in those days was the temple in Jerusalem, and so that’s where she liked to hang out. She spent a lot of time at the temple, worshiping and praying. Why? What was so special about the temple in Jerusalem? Well, the temple was the place the Lord God had set apart to be his dwelling place with his people. The temple was the place where God forgave their sins, heard their prayers, and received their worship. It was where God’s word was proclaimed, where they heard about the Lord’s mighty acts of old, about his continuing care, and about his coming deliverance. No wonder Anna loved to be there.

Same with our Anna, Anna Skaggs. She loved to go to church, and for the same reasons. The church has been set apart by God to be the place where God meets with his people. In the church we gather in his presence and receive his gifts. This is where the gospel is proclaimed. This is where sins are forgiven. This is where God hears our prayers and receives our worship. In the church, through Word and Sacrament, God is at work to make us Christians his holy people, forgiven people who trust in their Savior, people of faith and hope, who then live lives of love and service for their neighbor. No wonder our Anna loved to be in church.

But as our Anna got to be in her eighties, it became increasingly difficult for her to get to church. And so for these last few years, I would bring the church to Anna and Kennard, in their home. This is how they still were able to receive God’s good gifts for their salvation. Every month I would bring the Word and Sacrament to their home. Anna would greet me in her friendly way at the door: “Hello, Pastor,” I can hear her voice. Kennard would wheel his way in, and we would all gather at that kitchen table, each of us in our accustomed spot, and we would have a good time. It was at those times that Anna could hear the same comforting word of salvation she would have heard at church; she could receive the same precious body and blood of Christ for the forgiveness of her sins. I remember many times when Anna would ask me questions about the biblical message I was sharing; she wanted to know more, more about Christ, more about heaven, more about everlasting life. This was good; it showed a faith that was soaking in the blessings. Well, now, Anna, all of your questions will be answered.

Let’s go back for a moment to the Anna of our text. I said that she found her Redeemer in the baby born at Christmas, Jesus Christ. That’s the story we read about there in Luke 2. The Christ child had been born in Bethlehem at Christmas, and now it’s forty days later, the customary time for a firstborn son, which is what Jesus was, to be presented at the temple in Jerusalem. So that is where Mary and Joseph are going with the baby boy. While there, they encounter two aged saints, Simeon and Anna, both of them righteous and devout, both of them wondering when the Lord would bring to pass his promise of sending the Messiah. That’s what it means when it says that Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel” and that Anna was among those “waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” The consolation of Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem, would come in the arrival of the Messiah, the heaven-sent deliverer who would accomplish God’s great plan of salvation. Consolation, comfort, relief from affliction. Redemption, freedom, release from bondage. This is what God had promised them. This is what they were waiting for.

And now this is what they find in the presence of this little baby boy, Jesus. Oh, not like he had a halo shining around his head or anything. But the Holy Spirit had revealed to them that this was the one, this was indeed the Messiah. Therefore, when this is revealed to Anna, she “began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” She had found her Redeemer in the temple in that baby, Jesus Christ.

How about us? We need consolation, we need redemption, don’t we? Today we need consolation over the death of our Anna. We need comfort and strength to deal with our loss. We need relief from our affliction, the weighing sense that these aches and pains, ailments and diseases, are catching up with us. Today we need redemption. How will we be set free from this bondage we find ourselves in, that nothing seems to go right, that no matter what we do, a grave still will be waiting for us? There’s this nagging, gnawing sense of guilt, guilt before God that we have not honored him with our lives, guilt over how we have wronged others with our words and deeds. This sin would tie us down and condemn us to death. We need redemption, release, from all this bad news.

And this is where the good news of that little baby comes in. Christ Jesus, the child born at Christmas, is the Redeemer of the world. He is your Redeemer, your Savior. He came in the flesh, at Christmas, in order to redeem you, to set you free from the bondage of sin and guilt and death and condemnation. But it would not come without cost. The little child grew and taught the way of God. He lived the way of God, the way it was supposed to be lived. He, Jesus–he is the way of God, the way to God, the way, the truth, and the life. The way leads through a cross. The cross, the blood the Holy Son of God shed there–this was the price that Jesus paid to set you free. His death conquers death, forgives sin, and cleanses from guilt. His resurrection shows the result: life, bodies raised and glorious, eternal life in the presence of God and his people. All of God’s people who trust in Christ and are baptized in his name will share in this inheritance.

This is the “redemption of Jerusalem” that Anna looked forward to and that she found in Christ. This is the same redemption, the same Redeemer, that our Anna found in Christ. And so here is the consolation for you today: Anna is safe and secure in the presence of her Lord. All her afflictions are over. Now she is at peace and at rest. And one day, on the day when Christ returns, her body will be raised up whole and glorious, together with all the saints of God, including the one whose name and whose faith she shares, the Anna of old.

Two women named Anna, both eighty-four years old. Both women loved to go to church. Both women found their Redeemer in the baby born at Christmas, Jesus Christ. Two Annas, one Redeemer. And in that Redeemer, there is redemption and consolation for you.

Published in: on December 30, 2009 at 12:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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