Seeing as it's Boxing Day, perhaps something a wee bit Christmassy might be in order.
Anna is someone who probably doesn't get too much press at the average Christmas. The main characters at this time of year tend to be Mary & Joseph, followed by angels, inn-keepers, shepherds, and then by donkeys, cows and sheep. Sometimes wisemen and camels even get thrown into the mix (although here on the continent Epiphany is still known as the Day of the Three Kings). Anna, however, is a more important character than the assorted obligatory Christmas animals. Unlike the inn-keeper, she's actually mentioned in the Bible; unlike the shepherds, she's actually named. If we do remember her, it's probably not at Christmas, and she tends to get overshadowed by Simeon (afterall, he did come up with the Nunc Dimitis [Lk 2:29-32] ...). Yet the account of Anna in Luke 2:36-38 bears an important lesson for us today.
Anna 'served God with fastings and prayers night and day' (Luke 2:37). Today we hear so much about service in the church, yet service so often seems to be code for 'doing stuff'. Of course its important to do all the necessary activities for the well being of the church. Cleaning, putting out chairs, watering the plants, making coffee are all good things to do. Yet Anna wasn't in the Temple to serve refreshments or because it was her turn on the cleaning rota. She was there to serve God, but she served Him through prayer.
Anna is a great reminder to us of the importance of prayer. Prayer is service to God. So easily we forget that. While we get distracted by the multitude of our good activities for the well being of the church, we musn't let ourselves be distracted from that which is essential to the church' s being. We are called to serve God, and one of the primary ways of doing that is through prayer.