There was also a prophet, Anna She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem. (Luke 2:36-38 NIV)
Whether it is a novel, a movie, or a television show, each has a cast of major and minor characters. Often the mark of a good story is a strong supporting cast, where the minor characters make an important contribution to the overall plot.
One of my favourite programmes in recent years is Only Fools and Horses.
Not only did it have the main characters of Del Boy and Rodney, but it also had a strong line-up of minor characters. Who can forget: Granddad, Uncle Albert and Trigger, or Boycie, Marlene, Rachel and Cassandra? All were minor characters, but important ones, as they added to the shows comic observations of life in Peckham.
As I watched the BAFTAs this year one award that caught my attention was the one for best supporting actress. It was won by Patricia Arquette for her role in the film Boyhood.
It reminded me of another supporting character in the very early boyhood of Jesus: The Prophetess Anna.
There were some major characters in the story of the birth of Jesus: Zechariah and Elisabeth, Mary and Joseph, the angels and shepherds and a man named Simeon.
But Anna gets just 3 verses, almost as a postscript to the story. She was very old and a widow; what possible use could she be? What value could she add to the story?
Luke includes Anna in his gospel because she had a very important supporting role to play.
What was it that Anna did that put her in line for the best supporting character in the story?
Let me suggest 3 things:
- She drew near to God: Anna never left the temple. Even though she was 84 and had suffered the loss of her husband she didnt neglect coming to Gods House to be in his presence; she was always there.
- She was a worshiping servant: Anna worshiped night and day, fasting and praying or as the King James translation says, she served night and day Despite her physical circumstances Anna remained faithful because her life was focused on worshiping and serving the Lord where she could.
- When she saw Jesus she thanked God and told people about him: Anna’s joy at seeing the Messiah made it very natural for her to not only express thanksgiving to God, but also to report her discovery to others.
How about you?
You may feel that because of your age or the circumstances you find yourself in you cant play a leading role as Christian. Nevertheless, like Anna, you can still play a vital supporting role: you can draw near to God, worship him and when you see Jesus for who he is you can be so thankful that you just have to tell others about him.
Its a role that might not win you a BAFTA but there is a much greater prize ahead.
Father, Please give me a heart to draw close to you, to worship and serve you, and in gratitude to share the good news about Jesus with others.
Have a good week being a supporting Christian,