And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, ‘This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.’
There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age, having lived with her husband for seven years after her marriage, then as a widow to the age of eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshipped there with fasting and prayer night and day. At that moment she came, and began to praise God and to speak about the child to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem.
When they had finished everything required by the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon him.
We focus today on two “senior citizens,” although they are certainly an example to us of how our life and service for God can extend well into our later years of life. Particularly, in the days in which we ourselves live, society can all too easily try to dispense with the older generation as being surplus to requirements or only fit for making the tea, praying behind the scenes or other more menial duties. However, these two people in the twilight years of their life had been granted a very distinctive role of encouragement and confirmation right where they were. To use a more colloquial saying, they were truly “blooming where they had been planted.” This can be perhaps an example to us at any stage of our lives, when we feel that God or life itself has sidelined us from where the main action seems to be.
Simeon’s words serve as confirmation of the mission which Jesus came to fulfil, that of being light to this dark world, which would illuminate the glory of God to Israel as well as to the wider world. Whereas, Anna again a lady well beyond the years of life expectancy in these early New Testament times, was used of God firstly to praise God and then to be one of the first people to spread the news about this tiny baby who would become the human expression of His Heavenly Father, Almighty God.
These amazing people it would seem illustrate so clearly the need for us to be comfortable in the situation in which the Lord has placed us, realising that the Lord is able to use us right where we are. Simeon and Anna would not have had any real ability to move to where the action was, as it were, but through their faithful service and devotion within the Temple, the One Who was going to be the Life and Light was brought to them before their natural life was extinguished. Simeon could rest easy that he had, after years of watching and waiting seen with his own eyes, the Messiah. Anna had similarly seen the young Jesus, and having discerned through the eyes of faith the greatness of this youngster offered praise to God and then chatted to others about this precious gift given to humanity, God made incarnate, truly “God with us” dwelling amongst mortals.
Who often chooses to use us right where we are,
help us not to be impatient to see you move
or try to prod you to do wonderful things.
Instead remind us of the faith, quiet patience and trust
of Simeon and Anna who, in the fullness of time,
saw their Messiah for themselves.
May we wait on knowing that,
in time faith will become sight.
Verena Walder is a Lay Preacher and Elder of Tabernacle URC in Mumbles, Swansea.