May 12, 2016

The Face of God

Luke 2:36-40

[Anna] never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying.

—  Luke 2:37

Luke relates the story of Anna, an old woman who spent her days and nights in the temple “fasting and praying.” Anna had been married for seven years and then was a widow for many more years. Luke says her father’s name was Penuel, which means “face of God.”

As a prophet, Anna’s vocation was to listen, worship, and pray. She was specially called to seek the face and voice of God for the people of God. But it was not her plan to be a widow, or likely even to be a prophet. Somehow the work of God came into her life, and she moved on from the past to focus on God’s promises with amazing faith.

For decades, Anna spent her all her time in the temple. She held on to God’s promises, and when she saw the child Jesus, she knew that she was seeing the face of God. She gave thanks and “spoke about the child to all who were looking forward” to God’s salvation. 

We are challenged to grow in recognizing the face of Jesus in others. Maybe in the face of a senior who needs your help? Maybe in the face of a neighbor who longs to strike up a friendship? Maybe in the face of a person the Lord has been nudging you toward?

The face of Jesus is all around us, in people who are in need of help, encouragement, and especially God’s love and assurance. Do you see? 

Father, help me to learn from Anna’s faithfulness and to pay attention to your face in the people around me. Give me courage to see them as you see them. Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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