Summary: What it means to be redeemed - what means to have a purpose. Like Anna, we too are insignificant until we have been redeemed – and have become something special in the eyes of God.
Title: Anna: A Life in Three Verses
Text: Luke 2:36-38
FCF: Like Anna, we too are insignificant until we have been redeemed – and have become something special in the eyes of God.
If you were to go down to Charlottesville and start poking around in some family cemeteries, you might come across a gravestone that reads: April 13th, 1743 – July 4th, 1826;
AUTHOR OF THE DECLARATION OF AMERICAN INDEPENDENCE
Author OF THE STATUTE OF VIRGINIA FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM
AND FATHER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA.
While it might catch your eye, you might not initially give it much notice. I mean after all, his crowning achievement appears to be connected with what is only the 2nd best school in Virginia. But then your eye catches the name: Thomas Jefferson.
Third President of the United States. Responsible for the Louisiana Purchase – nearly half of the continental United States. Architect, Statesman, Inventor, Diplomat, would-be Bible editor, and Founding Father. His words have been quoted around the world. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights – that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I could go on and on about William & Mary’s most famous alumnus J but the point I’m making is this. His gravestone seems so simple, so ordinary. So many great details we would never have known had that simple marker been the only record of his life.
Our text this morning reminds me of that gravestone. The verses layout very neatly – they simply tell us who she was, who she met, and how that transformed her. But you know, we don’t even have her words. As a woman, she was that insignificant.
All we know of this woman’s life are a few paltry details that hardly do justice to her. She was a daughter of Phanuel of the tribe of Asher. She was married young and widowed early. We can pretty much guess what her life was like from those few details. Probably childless, long unmarried, this woman would have been a long forgotten footnote in most people’s book. She wasn’t anything special. I can’t prove this point, but when we read that she stayed in the Temple day and night, I can’t help but wonder if that was because she had nowhere else to go. A homeless old crank who had the misfortune of out-living her limited support network, and was now nothing but the discarded rubbish of Jewish society.
But there is one word that escaped her lips that speaks volumes to me. The word is this: Redemption. After she saw this little baby, just eight days from Christmas, the Bible recorded for the rest of history what she did for the rest of days – She told everyone who would listen about the Redemption of Jerusalem.
Redemption is one of those spiritual words you hear tossed around in church a lot. I guess we figure if we say it right we’ll sound all religious. But it’s just a simple word. Actually, if we thought about it, we should probably be put off by it.
You see, redemption assumes that you start with something basically worthless. It has no value in and of itself. But it can be exchanged for something far more valuable. It has the potential to be something really useful. It can be used for bigger and better things.
Take this gift I got for Christmas. Megan Herndon is a wonderful person, and she gave me a great, great gift. In reality, it’s nothing but a 3 cent piece of construction paper. It probably took her all of a minute to write on it. But the words she put there bring joy to my heart every time I look at: ‘This coupon can be redeemed for a night of babysitting whenever you want. Go take Susan out on the town!” That’s a valuable piece of paper! But intrinsically, it means nothing. Until it is exchanged, it’s worthless.
What would happen if I choose never to redeem this otherwise worthless piece of paper?
Some of you may remember that a dollar bill used to be “Redeemable” for gold or silver at the U.S. Treasury. That’s because these pieces of paper weren’t worth much to most people. They wanted real money – gold. If the paper were worth more than the gold, it would have been foolish not to redeem it. You’d only hold onto to these pieces of paper so they’d fit in your pocket more easily. The real stuff was in the bank vault. But when the paper couldn’t be redeemed, well, you had a run on the bank and no one was happy.