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Sermon Notes for the Teaching at Christian Fellowship Church on Sunday, December 3, 2023

Travel Light | Letting Go of Timetable

Beth Bramstedt

Travel Light

Letting Go of Our Timetable


December 3, 2023



Question: What is God saying to us in the story of Anna about traveling light?

Answer: He is encouraging us to let go of our timetable and wait in pursuit for him.


Move 1: Anna lived a hard, but faithful life.

Move 2: While Anna waited to meet the Messiah, God surrounded her with people and purpose in the temple.

Move 3: God answered Anna’s prayer in His time (she recognized him).

Move 4: He answers our prayers, too, when we let go of our timetable (Derik & Elizabeth’s story).




Story of Gramma Lynn and Aurora

·       We’re talking about traveling light. Letting go and learning to follow.

·       I’ve talked about my Gramma Lynn before. She would have been 102 last month.

·       Hope of her and the family that she would see and experience 5 generations of family before her death.

·       Last Christmas with Aurora and then over Labor Day. [PHOTO]


This story reminds me of a similar lady who was dedicated in her faith – the Prophetess Anna in the Christmas story.


“As the parents of the child Jesus brought him in to carry out the rituals of the Law, Simeon took him into his arms and blessed God. Anna the prophetess was also there, a daughter of Phanuel from the tribe of Asher. She was by now a very old woman. She had been married seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fasting and prayers. At the very time Simeon was praying, she showed up, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:27-28, 36-38 The Message


Move 1: Anna lived a hard, but faithful life.


Anna lived a hard, but faithful life.

·       The Hebrew name translated “Anna” means grace.

·       Anna was only married seven years and then became a widow. The deepest blow to a Jewish woman. She also had no children.

·       More than likely, this meant she could not have children, and therefore would not have been a candidate for remarriage. The situation of a sterile woman in this New Testament time was very sad.

·       She was from the tribe of Asher, which never resettled in Jerusalem, so if she had an extended family, they were scattered. She had limited options.

·       She chose to commit herself to God and live in the temple alongside Simeon. [PHOTO of painting]

·       Here she lived continually face to face with God, drinking in the thoughts which He would impart to her, losing the narrowness of self-interest and instead absorbed in the interests which God would make known to her.

·       She is the only female prophet in the New Testament. This descriptor, along with her standing in the community as a woman of great age and dedication to prayer, suggests Anna was a woman of remarkable faith.

·       Her life evidenced what Moses prophesied over the tribe of Asher in Deuteronomy 33 – “you will be safe behind iron-clad doors and gates and your strength will be like iron as long as you live.” She was a strong woman.


“There must have been a light upon the countenance of Anna which was a study in itself, for God and heaven shone there.” Mary Elizabeth Baxter [PHOTO]


Move 2: While Anna waited to meet the Messiah, God surrounded her with people and purpose in the temple.


While Anna waited to meet the Messiah, God surrounded her with people and purpose in the temple.

·       In her dire situation, rather than fall into a deep sadness or hopelessness, she takes on a different posture. She is full of hope and purpose. 

·       She opens herself up to what she lacks. She serves so that the happiness of those coming to the temple becomes her happiness.

·       The temple was the focal point of the community, and she makes it the focal point of her life.

·       It’s where children were brought to be dedicated, blessed, and taught. It’s where people came to be married, to pray, to make big decisions, and to find refuge from their troubles.

·       Anna was there to greet them, laugh with them, hug them, and pray for them. 

·       In her waiting, Anna let God and the community meet her needs. And she helped meet theirs.


“She is a woman, as I imagine it, who walks into the temple and simply glows. I imagine her gracing the temple with her presence and being an expansive presence to all around her.” Rev. Alisha Riepma [PHOTO]


Move 3: God answered Anna’s prayer to meet the Messiah in his time (she recognized him).


God answered Anna’s prayer in His time.

·       More than likely, Anna was a servant in God’s temple for 84 years. 84 years! She has waited for an answer to her prayer for 84 years.

·       Then, when the day comes, and the Baby Jesus enters the temple, she recognizes him.

·       The aged intercessor sees the answer to her prayers.

·       As a prophetess, Anna would have received insight into things that normally remain hidden to ordinary people; she recognizes who this child is and tells of his significance to others who were waiting for him in Jerusalem. 

·       After decades of waiting to meet the one who would free Jerusalem, Anna shows up at the tail end of the Christmas narrative, recognizes the baby as the Messiah, and takes her place in Biblical history by pointing God’s people to the coming of our Savior.

·       Her heart is so full that it overflows as she holds the Messiah in her hands.


“She recognized him…” Luke 2:38

In Luke 2 we read of Anna, once a young widow who had devoted her entire life to God. For more than 80 years she served faithfully at the temple, in fasting and prayer, anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Messiah. She desperately longed to meet the Savior of her people, the Savior of her soul. And so, she waited. 

She did not wait aimlessly, however. Anna waited in pursuit. She devoted herself to learning, to cultivating, to being with the one who created her.

Eventually the day came; the day that Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the temple. In that moment, Anna knew, and she began praising God.

“She recognized him and called out the truth,” author Sarah Bessey writes. “This is the mark of a soul in pursuit of Jesus. We recognize him.”

And he is here with us, too. We get glimpses of him in the children around us, and the people he puts in our path. We have moments of transcendence, where what could be explained as logical, we know is spiritual. We experience him in our grief and in our joy. Our soul delights in the chirping of the birds that greet us in the morning and the beauty of the stars that bid us good night. Normal, even ordinary moments, somehow feel full.

And like Anna, if we’ll just pause, in those moments our souls remember something, too. We recognize him here.


To illustrate how letting go of our timetable and waiting on God allows us to travel light, my friends Derik and Elizabeth are here to share how God has answered a long-awaited prayer for their family. Welcome Derik and Elizabeth!


Move 4: He answers our prayers, too, when we let go of our timetable (Derik & Elizabeth’s story). 


Derik and Elizabeth have a separate script. Their portion is 20 minutes without slides except for the photo near the end.


Questions for Derik & Elizabeth to answer:

·       What was the reality of your situation after the birth of Annabelle?

·       Describe your season of waiting. What was your posture?

·       How did God provide (make himself known) during your time of waiting?

·       When the time arrived, how did God answer your prayer? And how did you recognize it as God? [FAMILY PHOTO]


Conclusion – Band comes out as Derik and Elizabeth exit the stage.


Gifts in These Stories:  

·       You can wait in pursuit of Jesus.

·       God will surround you with people and purpose.

·       When the time comes, you will recognize Him.


“The Lord is coming, always coming. When you have ears to hear and eyes to see, you will recognize him at any moment of your life. Life is Advent; life is recognizing the coming of the Lord.” Henri Nouwen [PHOTO]


Breath Prayer: As I wait, I trust you’re coming.


Ministry Time – [Band plays quietly for 3 minutes – instruments only – then prayer requests come up.]


Prayer Requests









Small Group Questions

1.     How much did you know about Anna before today?

2.     What stands out to you about her story?

3.     Have you ever waited desperately for something? Where did you sense God during that time?

4.     Where do you find yourself today? 

a.     Are you waiting in pursuit of Jesus?

b.     How has God surrounded you with people and purpose?

c.      Where do you recognize Him?

5.     How can you pray for your fellow group members this week?



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